Begin the Day With a Smile

Begin the Day With a Smile

How often do you begin your day with a smile? Until last year, I rarely had. Christmas morning when I was a kid? Probably. Otherwise, even though I had a lot to be grateful for and positive, exciting things planned, likely not. And that was okay — starting the day with a smile is certainly not a prerequisite to having a good day — but it does play a positive trick on your psyche.

I learned of this practice about six months ago and ever since, it’s been something I try to do every day. At first, as with all micro-habits, it didn’t stick. But now? It’s a natural part of my day and my being, and, because of the profound impact it’s had on my perspective, I’d like to tell you more about it today. 

Why might someone, on a whim, begin their day with a smile? What might cause us to, shortly after waking and before we get out of bed, crack a smile? Maybe the day prior was just awesome, and it’s impossible not to smile as we recount what happened. Maybe the day ahead involves something or someone we just can’t not be excited for. We love these days.

But what I’ve learned is that something spectacular is not required to begin the day with a smile. The simple practice of starting your day with a smile can bring deeper levels of gratitude to all that’s come before and deeper levels of meaning and excitement for the day ahead, whatever it may bring us.

I believe I’ve told the story before of a day when I was in a funk about something that happened at work. I was upset at myself, or embarrassed, and these feelings were so strong I was having a hard time actually doing anything that day. So, I took a walk — something that often helps me move through obstacles or resistance. The walk alone wasn’t doing it, so I turned to gratitude. I practiced gratitude for the body that allowed me to move, the beautiful day that it was, and so much more. And still, nothing. Until, in the quarter block before my walk was to come to an end, I remembered the science of smiling and, though I did have to force it, I smiled. 

Instantly, and I mean instantly, everything changed for me that day. I didn’t flip to being happy in that moment, but the weight of what was bogging me down that day lifted immediately. I’m no mind-body expert, but it often does surprise me the impact that making changes to our body, even small things like cracking a smile, can have on our psyche. (If you’ve ever gotten a fresh haircut and then immediately started feeling happier/more confident, you know what I mean.)

And of course I didn’t introduce this practice and tell the story above to encourage us to practice cracking a smile every once in a while or only when it comes naturally to us. I’m sharing this because of the profound impact that beginning nearly every single one of my days over the past six months with a smile has had on me. (According to the Heroic App, I’ve hit this target 209 times.) 

That simple act of a smile moments after I wake up shifts me immediately to either gratitude or excitement. Often I’m immediately deeply grateful for the safe, comfortable bedroom I’m fortunate to have and the wife and dog (yes, Leon sleeps with us) I’m so lucky to wake up next to. 

Or, the smile causes me to consider what I’m excited for that day. Though every day isn’t Christmas and I may not be going to Six Flags that day, there is certainly something I’m excited for. I love taking a few moments while I smile to consider what that thing is. I then look forward to whatever that thing may be, and I feel a deeper sense of joy and gratitude for being able to experience things that genuinely excite me. 

Some days are hard to start with a smile. But much like how I did in the story I shared above, I force myself to smile. Every time that causes a 1% shift to happen. And every time, that 1% shift is enough to cause me to consider what I’m grateful for or excited about. 

This incredibly simple practice has had such a delightful and positive rippling effect on my being that I had to share it with you today. 

If you would, crack a smile now. 

And if you can think of this tomorrow morning, try it again. 

As I did, you’ll forget some days in the process, but come back to it. 

It’s amazing what such a small action, done daily, can do.