Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Little Bit of Cheerfulness Goes a Long Way

Rough times are a fact of life. Whether we see the burden of poverty, the destruction of natural disasters, or the horrors of war on the television, we are constantly bombarded by negativity and all-around bad. 

Sometimes, it can strike closer to home. Though personal problems may seem to pale in comparison to global issues, it doesn't mean they are any less important. You may have lost a loved one, gone through a difficult break-up, or are suffering from ennui or depression.

Life isn't about what we go through, but how we decide to go through it. The bad stuff will come, but it will only rule us if we allow it to rule us. I'm not saying to ignore the bad stuff that happens -- I'm saying accept that bad stuff will happen, but move on. Don't let it control you and the way your life will go.

But how do you this? The best way to start is to smile. When times are rough, smile. When times are good, smile. As long as your heart beats in your chest you have a reason to smile. There are studies that show that the simple act of smiling will improve your mood (see facial feedback theory).

Sometimes smiling might not help. You feel so down on yourself that you can't even muster the ability to smile. Life has a tendency to get on us like that. When that happens, you have alternatives to letting life keep you down.

If you can't smile, take the time to make someone else smile. Compliments go a long way in making someone else's day. Tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them. Tell your lady friends how nice they look in their outfit for the night. Tell your guys how much fun you have when you're with them. Anything along these lines, as long as they are genuine and sincere, can make someone smile. 

And you know what the amazing thing is?

When you make someone smile, their smile makes you smile. And the feeling that you just made someone's day a little brighter is one of those feelings that can't be topped or brought down by negative emotion.

Here's a little video made by some Brits about how to give and receive compliments:

I happily subscribe to the philosophy that life is what we make it. If you decide to see that the glass is half-empty rather than half-full, I won't begrudge you your decision, but I will encourage you to try, at least once, to see that there is a silver lining to every cloud and that positivity can beat out negativity any day. And if you still don't believe me, then watch this fantastic short film.

Also, here is a picture of a puppy sleeping, as my way to make you smile today.

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