Recently listening to Louis Armstrong, I was struck by how powerfully accurate these lyrics are for those who fully discover the authentic smile. On those days when all is going well, and you can’t help but smile at the world, I am sure you have found that the whole world does smile with you. Funny things happen without seeking them. Supportive comments and sweet conversations seem to abound. Life seems to flow as if there is harmony and ease, almost magically setting up moment after moment to maintain that tremendous positive state. It is a lovely ride on those days!
And yet, I suspect, you have unknowingly tested the counterpart to this truism many times. In other words, there is an opposite to Dr. Armstrong’s lyrics that would go something like this:
“Frown…And The Whole World Frowns with You!”
Isn’t this true? You wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and it seems that virtually no one is there to give you that loving, sweet, and supportive pep talk you might want. Instead, it’s the opposite, as the kids, your spouse or partner, or even co-workers all join the conspiracy to FROWN with you. Such negativity seems to be everywhere and, of course, only exacerbates your frustration.
Or perhaps you were doing reasonably okay, and something upsets and frustrates you. You react strongly and get ‘hooked’ on your upset. What happens next? Haven’t you noticed how easily that frustration winds its way into the following minutes and hours?
You have heard the saying, ‘Misery loves company.’ Indeed, it’s easy to see how this applies. One miserable moment seems to love and attract the next miserable moment. The cascade of misery can easily keep flowing and dictate a day, a week, or a lifetime for some. Thus, on a larger scale, miserable people do not want to hang out with happy folks: instead, they seek miserable folks. And then, they can share and feed their misery. Painful but true.
Finding the Authentic Smile So the Whole World Can Smile with YOU!
First, it’s essential to understand why I have qualified this conversation with the notion of ‘authenticity’ as the backbone of getting the world to smile with you. Most of us can readily detect the forced or fake smile we often see from others. We don’t particularly feel warm and fuzzy; instead, our response is often equally forced or throttled back with some caution. The forced smile is not the focus of this article.
Those genuinely happy, however, have no issues here as their smile is contagious and pulls us into their joyful existence. We know its authenticity and the energy that this conveys. But many of us do not hang out in these positive states that often, but we can recognize them easily and naturally.
The movement into a life with more joy does not happen with one swell swoop, and suddenly all is amazing. That false expectation gets in the way. The evolution of a joy-filled life is a process of growth and change. And thus, the goal is to accumulate moments of joyfulness and happiness through self-awareness and self-effort. Not the grind your teeth kind of self-effort…but instead, it’s the intention to live with more awareness in each moment and find the softer emotions that make you smile.
Let’s break this down into three simple steps to finding an authentic smile.
1. Start early in the day: Intend to find what makes you smile more often.
One of the most underutilized tools we have available to us comes from the power of intentions. Most folks never set an intention about how to live! They live by chance and hope the universe will bring them a good reason to smile. Usually, it does not. Thus, a bad plan. Terrible plan.
Instead, we can dramatically enhance our lives by setting practical, doable intentions each morning. For example, we can pause for ten minutes and sit with our thoughts while setting the day’s intentions. To nurture that genuine smile, we must intend to find moments that automatically bring a smile. These are typically moments of beauty, love, connection, and perhaps humor. We then imagine portions of our day when we seek such experiences to notice and absorb.
2. Pause and absorb those moments so you can FEEL them in your body.
Okay, I know it sounds a bit weird. But if you are going to smile authentically, you must feel authentic in your emotional state. Right?
So, instead of constantly following the mind’s lead toward what’s next, let the moment your intention has now found be an adequate and complete moment for you. Just absorb the moment of beauty. Or the moment of connection or love.
3. Amplify softly with a Meta-Comment: “I love this….”
Maybe that’s not your comment, but find something to softly say to yourself that amplifies the moment you have discovered and noticed. Something like, “I like this,” or “This feels good,” or “I love how this feels.” Not a lot, but just a sweet, internal add-on of appreciation of this moment. And then again, feel it until that natural, authentic smile emerges.
You notice that you could quickly begin to use these moments and other delightful, loving moments you have in your reservoir of memories to further add to how good you feel.
Feeling good has its own reward. You don’t have to justify it. And you don’t have to abandon it in service of a to-do. Instead, play with that authentic smile a bit, and just enjoy… as the whole world smiles WITH you.