Smile. What a simple word, simple action even, that can be so difficult to truly do and feel genuinely. There are so many things we’ve written about here: regarding losing our child, dealing with depression and even my own disability. Honestly, those are just scratching the surface on the most recent traumas in my life.
When my life traumas are all listed out, people can’t understand how I function.
To be honest, I’m not completely sure either.
People frequently tell me I have an infectious smile and that when I laugh they can’t help but feel my joy. I’m glad that they do, but I haven’t always feel the full affect of that joy. I was certainly blessed in that I cannot resist laughing if something is funny, in almost any mood. It helps.
I’m sure you’ve heard that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, not sure why that fact is so popular. I mean, who thinks ‘I better smile, it’s less of a workout.’ That’s just bananas.
A Great Example of Smiling Through Rough Times
I recently read Where There’s Smoke, There’s Dinner: Stories of a Seared Childhood by Regi Carpenter, a solo performance artist, writer, teacher and performance coach. The book will make you laugh but it will also deeply touch your soul. It’s real, but one can easily see how her sense of humor came about along with a very real sense of genuine love. I would absolutely love to sit down and have coffee with this woman.
In the book, she tells her story. There are many humorous adventures and many not so humorous occurrences, but through it all the love of family comes through. It will make you laugh and sometimes cry a little. It’s definitely a worthwhile read. From the book, I received a reminder that sometimes one just has to smile as whatever we are going through in the moment (barring loss of a child or loved one in my opinion) will pass and get better. Then again, anyone who has lost a child can tell you that no other thing could possibly be as bad, ever.
Anyway, about the book…
Regi is the youngest daughter in a family that pulsates with contradictions: religious and raucous, tender but terrible, unfortunate yet irrepressible. These honest tales—some hilarious, some heartbreaking—celebrate the glorious and gut-wrenching lives of four generations of Carpenters raised on the Saint Lawrence River in Clayton, New York. From teenagers struggling to find their identity to disabled veterans grappling with the aftermath of war and change to the complications and sweetness of love between family members, this collection of linked short stories holds the universal message that life’s difficulties are softened by love and fortitude . . . and family.
How to Get Your [Genuine] Smile Back in Hard Times
As I said before, I’ve been through a lot. More than I care to list out, but to be fair I’ll give you a brief list. From my childhood, I dealt with divorce (who doesn’t these days though right), drug addicted parents, being taken away by DHS as a child, rejection, rape, watching abuse, just to name a bit. Then being a teenager and young adult brought their own traumas. Perhaps one day I’ll write about that stuff, not today though!
Getting that Smile back!!! Needless to say, it would have been easy to sink into sadness and often I do. I’m a really good example of PTSD. A psychologists dream even. They’d have enough dissertations to get at least half a dozen doctoral theses out of my life story!
What I’ve learned is this, whatever is going on I have to find some reason to smile. Some spark of positivity. Some things are more difficult than others to find positivity in and I will be the first to admit that I dwell in my despair more than is truly acceptable. Pity parties, after all, are much easier than finding my smile.
Find a Smile In Bad Moments.
First, please take note that I said bad moments not bad days or situations. That one is thanks to a dear friend who both went through some of the same trauma and was literally in it at the same time with me for a little while as children. My friend helped me come around, thanks to their own counseling, to the understanding that the view needed to be modified from everything being bad, to that one piece being bad.
Break it Into Pieces: For example, if you are having a good meal but bite into a seed that gives you a burst of not good flavor, the meal itself isn’t terrible (or any other negative word you choose to use), only that particular bite.
That way, everything doesn’t have a negative shadow on it for the rest of the meal, day or whatever. Instead, that little piece bares the negativity and you’ve now moved past it.
To find your smile, or bright side or whatever, look at things with that in mind. Fight the urge to stay negative by forcing yourself to find one thing to smile about or brighten it up.
In a traffic jam? Smile because you have more time to sit still and listen to your favorite song.
Burn Dinner? Give yourself enough grace that you tried and be thankful you are able to start over or order out!
You get the point.
Finding the Bright Side Helps Find Your Smile
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