Smiling is a choice
Smiling is a choice. I know that sounds strange…i would have previously said a smile is something that happens when you are happy…a result or reaction…to something inbound…but this is not the case. A smile can come from within. You can choose to smile, as a state of mind and as an explicit action…and while it may seem forced at first…if you let it happen…that smile and state of mind can become genuine…simply by letting it.
One of many lessons learned after a month travel through India. I saw smiles in places that would make you cry. I saw joy in places that you would want to change, or “fix,” or improve…and I met so many people who were happy, despite the most challenging of situations, simply because they chose happiness as a life philosophy.
I left New York at the beginning of December relatively down. A body of work I had spent 3 years on had come to an end that I wasn’t proud of. Many of the things that constitute my really really good life seemed mundane and routine. Not only was I not choosing happiness, I was actively punishing myself for not succeeding with Wildcard. Sometimes I can deprive myself of joy because I feel like I don’t deserve to experience it when things aren’t where I want them to be…and wrapping up Wildcard, that was definitely where I was at…
As it turns out, joy is not about deserving it or not…it’s not a result that only materializes when it’s earned or something good happens…it is a frame of mind that you can choose to experience, regardless of context…it is an input to…not an output of…a life well lived.
As I approach this next chapter in life, and start to think about new endeavors, and work, and goals, and all of the things that get me out of bed each morning…knowing that joy is what I will bring to them…as opposed to what will come from them…makes this exploration so much more fun.
I’ll end with an anecdote without analysis, but worth contemplating:
Amongst the many forms of meditation that we touched in India, one of the most surprising and interesting was a Sufist laughing meditation. 15 strangers stood in a circle, and we were instructed to start laughing…at first this was a very uncomfortable ask…initial laughs took the form of “Ha, Ha, Ha..” almost Dr. Evilesque (with all the vilians sitting around that board table in Austin Powers)…minutes passed and the forced laughter begat real laughter…you’d look at other people laughing and you’d start to laugh harder, and that’d make them laugh harder, and fast forward 10 minutes and 15 complete strangers are rolling on the floor in insane, uncontrollable laughter…i laughed harder in that meditation than I have in years…and it all began with a very forced…Ha…Ha…Ha…with a choice…to begin laughing…