The challenge: Do this smile challenge every day for one week.
Time: 5-10 min
Requirements: A quiet location where you can comfortably sit, ask a timer, pen, paper
- On a piece of paper, in big block letters, write “In this moment, I choose to feel happy.”
- Sit in a comfortable position, and place the paper on your lap.
- Set your timer to 5 minutes.
- Take three deep breaths, and each time you exhale, imagine the tension leaving your body.
- Smile as widely as you can. You might feel silly doing so. Do it anyways.
- While smiling, read and re-read the phrase you wrote on the paper.
- Focus on the words you are reading.
- If you feel your mind wandering, take a deep breath, and refocus your attention to the words on the paper.
- Remember to keep smiling throughout the exercise.
The outcome: You may notice that by the time your timer beeps, your body feels more relaxed, your mood is improved, and your smile is genuine. Over time you may even notice how much easier it is to slip into a good mood simply by smiling and thinking “In this moment, I choose to be happy.”
Theory behind the exercise: The purpose of the smile challenge is to put you in a relaxed and content meditative state, while simultaneously creating and reinforcing positive and empowering beliefs; in this case the belief would be that happiness is a choice that is available to you. Entering into a relaxed meditative state is done by breathing deeply and focusing on a singular thought. Smiling broadly (Duchenne Smile) while doing so, optimizes feelings of relaxation and contentment, by lowering blood pressure if stressed, activating pleasure centers in the brain and releasing serotonin (“feel good hormone”). In such a state, your unconscious is primed to create a new belief about your ability to influence your own happiness. The more you repeat the thought, and repeat the exercise, the more your belief is reinforced and validated.
So keep smiling and keep thinking positive thoughts!
We would love to know about your experience with the smile challenge in the comments below!