Do you need to smile to be happy?
Is it always that clear to spot a happy person?
Hello fellow Protagonists,
Have you smiled today?
There can be times when we realise that we have not smiled all day. We may try to recall the last time we laughed hard enough that our ribs ached. Doesn't smiling show us that we are enjoying life?
This can lead us down a thinking path where we believe we are not generally happy, as we are not visually showing it. We might feel like everywhere we look people appear to be having a great time. We can get to the point where other peoples' smiles start to annoy us because "they can't possibly be happy all the time can they?"
Smiles and facial expressions are only external cues of happiness. They can be genuine but can also be forced. Think about those professional family photos as a child.
The important thing to focus on is that we do not base our happiness on what other people are doing and what they are showing us. Social media can certainly lead us down a path of constant comparison.
"Comparison is the thief of joy" - Theodore Roosevelt
We know if we are happy regardless of how this might look to the outside world.
If I picture my two happiest situations; the first is at home on my settee with my wife and dog, the second is looking over my favourite part of our local forest when the fields are blooming a deep purple, strangely enough I am not smiling in either of these images. Nor am I frowning, I have a relaxed face.
It is not that I don't smile much either and if something hits me right on my funny bone then I do get to the point of crying with laughter fairly often. With the right company I can spend the majority of our time together smiling and laughing. As for stuff at home; shows like Community, Key and Peele and Rick and Morty have all recently got the waterworks starting.
That is just the way I am. I guarantee to you that these are my happiest moments.
Think about your absolute favourite, happiest situations. We may be smiling in these, we may not be. We may be crying, snorting, dry heaving. The point is that it doesn't really matter. It doesn't change the fact that they are our happiest times and that is what really counts.
In these moments for me there is a warm feeling I get that is quite difficult to describe. I am also not telling myself that I am happy. I am not explaining or reinforcing to myself how great the moment is. I am not sure I am thinking at all, just soaking the moment in. There are no other concerns or cares in the world at that time.
People watching me probably wouldn't call the person they see excessively happy going by my face and body language. This is only their interpretation, their story.
True happiness comes from an overall feeling of absolute contentment rather than spurs of laughter and smiling.
I remember once reading a comment from a Scandinavian who found it funny that their country was ranked as one of the top for happiness in the world but the locals were renowned for having what is best described as "resting bitch face." I think this goes to show first hand that happiness is a lot deeper than what somebody's face is telling us.
Just because we are not smiling doesn't mean we are not happy. It reminds me of the children's books and exercises in school when teachers show cards with faces on and ask what emotion they are showing. This is great to start being able to recognise emotions and develop emotional intelligence but maybe influenced us to only spot obvious signs of those emotions.
Smile means happy. No smile means no happy. Warrick no smile because Warrick no happy.
After all, levels of happiness can increase and decrease over time but having a more positive base level is what will improve our long term mood. A smile can be temporary but contentment can be a lifestyle.
To pull a line from the lyrical genius that was Chris Cornell.
"To be yourself is all that you can do"
Smile or no smile, just be you.
Where do you feel absolute contentment?