Good Morning, my friends! Thanks for joining me today. This week’s post will talk about what I think is one of the biggest keys to life, wearing a smile! The post will talk about my Grandfather, include some scientific discussions about the benefits of smiling, and include my workout schedule this week. So, to kick off the new week on the positive, this is the Workout of the Week. This is The Have an Easy Smile Workout.
“It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.”F. Scott Fitzgerald
My Grandpa Abraham was my Dad’s Dad. He was born in 1920 to a farming family in rural southern MN. He lived through the Great Depression and many other events. He married Norma, and they had three sons; Bruce, Dennis, and Mark (my dad). After Dad, my grandparents became foster parents and took care of many other children over many years.
Grandpa died in 1990 when I was 7 years old. I didn’t get to know him very well and most of my memories of him are towards the end of his life when he was very ill. I remember asking my Grandma Norma about Grandpa after he had passed on.
Grandma would get a little teary-eyed, sigh, and smile. Then she would tell me “Your Grandpa had such an easy smile… that’s why we called him “Smiley”‘. And she would say …”No matter what, that man always wore a smile”. I came to remember Grandpa as “Grandpa Smiley”.
The “Grandpa Smiley” Gene
Most memories of my Dad are of him smiling. He got the “Grandpa Smiley” gene. He wasn’t always happy, but I think he always had an optimistic spirit, just like Grandpa. My Dad had an easy smile, that lit up the room and drew people to him. Dad and his brothers were always smiling, laughing, and joking when they were together.
I am pretty sure Dad passed that “Grandpa Smiley” gene on to me too. Even during tough times, I have always tried to have an optimistic outlook and know that a smile helps make me feel like myself. Life has not always been easy, but I know if I smile, I can turn around a bad day.
“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight”Phyllis Diller
What is a smile?
A smile is a contraction of the muscles around the mouth that curves the outside of our lips upward. Another type of smile, sometimes called a Duchenne Smile, also involves contracting the muscles around the corners of our eyes. When we humans smile we express joy, happiness, and sociability.
The Science of Smiling
Science has studied smiles and debated the effects of smiling for over 100 years. Charles Darwin developed the facial feedback hypothesis, which linked facial muscle activity to regulating and modulation of human emotions. The theory inspired many studies. The facial feedback hypothesis has not led to definite conclusions, but most studies show that facial muscle activity does have at least some effect on emotion.
Smiling Stimulates the Mind
Studies have linked smiling to the release of happy chemicals in the brain. An article posted in 2014 on britishcouncil.org, written by Ding Li, states “When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system, and further increasing our level of happy hormones, or endorphins”. Ding Li’s article claims that smiling creates a positive feedback loop in the human brain because it causes the release of happy chemicals.
Science tells us that smiling releases hormones; serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. Serotonin is linked to regulating mood, well-being, and happiness in the human brain. Dopamine is linked to pleasure and reward centers in the brain. Endorphines are related to pain relief and happiness.
What is an Easy Smile?
An easy smile is a natural smile that is not forced and includes contracting the muscles around both the eyes and the mouth. It is an honest and confident smile that happens naturally and comes from within to shine out. You could say someone who has an easy smile has a disposition to smile often.
How to Have an Easy Smile
- Daily gratitude practice
- Start and end the day by listing things in life you are grateful for
- See Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty for more on this
- Start and end the day by listing things in life you are grateful for
- Listen to music that makes you happy
- Laugh often
- When you pass someone, smile at them
- Find humor in everything
- Gain some perspective
- I am reading Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl. I have not finished it yet, but wow, the book has already helped me gain some perspective on life.
- Give, without expectations
- Do the things you know make you happy
- Fake it till you make it – some studies have shown even the act of smiling (whether fake or not) makes you happier, at least for a little while
- Practice your smile in the mirror
- Exercise often – exercise makes us feel good, relieves stress, and makes us smile!
“You need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.”Thich Nhat Hanh
On to the Workout Schedule
I am going to do some yoga every day this week. Yoga With Adriene is pretty much the go-to for me. This “feel good flow” is a great one. Check out this one and all the great content from Yoga With Adriene.
This week I will be riding my spin bike on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I like to pull up a video from the Global Cycling Network (GCN) and ride along with them. The videos help me get more out of a spin bike workout than just riding by myself without a video on. GCN has tons of online content so be sure to check them out!
I will be doing my Heavy Bag routine on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
“FIIT Tabata Burner Routine”. FIIT = Flow Intensity Interval Training. 8 of 10 max intensity on hard interval. Tabata = 8 intervals of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. A Tabata Burner is three rounds of that with a one-minute break between rounds. The workout this week will be using 8 moves with a 10-second full rest between work intervals and a full one-minute break after each Tabata interval.
Here are the moves:
- Bear Hug Squats
- Left lunge – Fireman carry step back lunge
- Right lunge – Fireman carry step back lunge
- Fireman carry to overhead presses
- Alternating Shoulder carry presses – hold the bag on one shoulder, lift over the head, and hold on the other shoulder, repeat.
- Right – suitcase carry walk
- left – suitcase carry walk
Depending on the weather, I will also be riding my mountain bike, playing some disc golf, and rucking on the trails.
I am trying to keep doing a daily meditation practice of at least 10 minutes per day.
Wrap It Up
There you have it, my friends! That is the post for the week. I hope reading this post helps you smile! Even if it doesn’t, maybe try to fake it and you just might feel more like smiling anyways! A special thanks to the Global Cycling Network and to Yoga With Adriene for the awesome free content they put out! An even bigger thanks to everyone who read this post! Make it a great week. Until next time, be the hero or heroine in your story.
An Extra Special Shout Out
Saturday I got to spend some time with the family. We got together to celebrate a big day for a great Lady. A special shout out to Grandma Mary, who is celebrating 85 years of life on June 29th. Happy Birthday, Grandma!
Happy Birthday, Grandma Mary!
If a picture of this remarkable lady celebrating 85 years of life doesn’t make you smile, you probably have no soul! 🙂