Get Higher with Just a Smile
Posted on 12/21/17: Arizona Sober Living \ Relapse Prevention
A lot of focus is put on the “things to avoid” to help maintain sobriety. While there’s truth to that, it screams negativity! Whether you’ve made the choice to live a sober life, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve chosen to live happy. Our existence is like a coin. It can be shiny or dull. It can bring value or collect dust. There are two sides to how we look at life – even in the bad times. But there’s one act that can flip both sides of the coin to a positive in an instant and it doesn’t cost you a dime. Get higher, just smile. Right now.
It’s Our Natural Drug, Without the Nasty Side Effects
Sounds a little white-picket-fence-ish? Yeah, I’ll own that. Though there’s science behind the beauty of gleaning those dimples on your cheeks (on your face, seriously) and it supports a healthier, longer life and sobriety. So put on a happy face and keep reading to understand all its benefits.
Happiness Is Subjective
For years, the mental health community has put much time and money into the study of sadness, depression, stress and anxiety. (That’s depressing in and of itself.) What about the study of happiness?
Turns out that every person has their own barometer for what happiness is. If being happy is a personal state of mind, body and soul, how then can we accurately measure it? It’s all about how we feel.
Real Smiles and Fake Smiles Work Too
The act of smiling, when you engage your facial muscles to form a smile, sets off a brain message and physiological reaction coming from an area called the cingular cortex, bringing the unconscious and an automated response together.
When you smile (are you smiling?) this is what happens in the brain:
- Neuropeptides come out to play
- Neurons start chatting with the body
- Dopamine, serotonin and endorphins come hang out
- Relaxation begins
This is the amazing part: Smiling brings out our pleasure sensors, much like drug or alcohol intake does. And the only side effect is that it turns other people on enough to smile right back. Not bad at all.
If enough people smiled, we could alter the amount of negative energy and help shift social consciousness to a healthier light. Sounds like the basic premise of Disneyland®. You can do your part, multiple times a day. Smile. Often.
The Importance of the Social Network
When we think about happiness, most of us equate achieving a sense of happy in attaining a goal, a wish, or overcoming a challenge like addiction. There is no right way in how we get to happy but it’s usually fleeting. For example, many people who are in the process of getting married often experience a feeling of elation during the event, followed by a let-down after it’s over.
If happiness is a momentary experience, how can we keep the feeling flowing?
- Time and
Your social network affects sobriety. One of the covenants in the art of living drug and alcohol free is forming new bonds of friendship with like-minded people. The more positive interpersonal connections you have and the more often you interact with them, the more happiness is cultivated. Think about the foundation of Facebook. You might have 1000 friends. They’re not all your besties, but when you reach out to a facebook friend and share a positive thought or comment on one of their thoughts, you are promoting happiness. You might want to take note of the next time you’re on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter. Check your face. If you’re sharing something nice, there’s probably a smile happening right along with it.
Happiness Is Found in the Simpler Things
Happiness is found in the simpler things – and a lot of them. Sober living, like any change in life, involves a restructuring of personal beliefs and living by them to the fullest. There are daily challenges, some can be avoided while others can come about as a total surprise. Now let’s get back to the first part of this story, and that flip of the coin.
Choose happiness, no matter what. Just start it with a smile. Show that smile to someone else. You never know what kind of day they’re having. Your smile might just make their day. And when it does (and it will) you’ll walk away with their smile in return. A mutual blessing of sorts.
It’s Okay to be Selfish, Just Share It
Doing something nice for someone else is selfish, in a good way. Consider when you donate a new toy for a good cause, perhaps to a charity drive, providing Christmas gifts for children who otherwise may not get one. The non-profit agency organizers are happy to see you. The child, who you may never meet, is happy. And think about the amount of smiles you created… and the one on your face too. Giving to someone else is a wonderful way to give and get happiness.
Measure Your Own Happiness Wherever You Go
To further support your personal quest to improve happiness, start by measuring your own. You can, with the help of a free new app created by a scientific researcher from Harvard, Matt Killingsworth. Track Your Happiness app allows you to be part of a larger look at the study of what makes us happy. It tracks levels of happiness at different times of the day, for however long you want to participate. It might make you more aware of your moods, what affects you, and how quickly just a smile can turn things around. Plus, it’s cool to know your contribution in time will benefit others – definitely, something to smile about.
There’s Many Reasons to Smile While Sober Living in Arizona
Content for Sober Living AZ and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media
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