When I was a young girl, my mother was always saying two things, “Don’t use a toothpick in public,” and “Smile, Pam, even if you don’t feel like it.” As a result, I never used a toothpick (I figured my toothbrush would do), and I smiled at everyone. In fact, I received the “Best Smile” award at Kanakuk Camp with I was nine years old. I still have my ribbon to prove it.
Yet when I became a single mother, my smiling became a challenge. In fact, I thought it strange to smile when I didn’t want to grin. Can you relate? Why smile when life has not turned out the way you had planned? Why smile when it makes you feel like a fake? My mother wanted me to smile because she was all about appearance. Today, however, I have my own list of why we should smile.
So, do me a favor. Slap a smile on your face right now and start rehearsing while nobody’s watching. It induces a change in your atmosphere without you even knowing it. It’s a choice we make. And better yet, it promises fabulous benefits.
Smiling physiologically bonds you with your children. Each time you smile, your children’s brain coaxes them to return the favor. You are creating a reciprocal emotion that allows both of you to release brain chemicals that increases your compatibility, and who doesn’t want a better relationship with their sons and daughters?
Smiling is contagious. Have you ever tried to frown at someone when they are grinning from ear to ear? It’s hard. In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of several emotions: joy, fear, surprise. When the picture of someone smiling was presented, the researchers asked the subjects to frown. They couldn’t, unless of course, they made a conscious effort not to.
Smiling relieves stress. Your body immediately releases endorphins when you smile, even when you force it. Psychologists have found that even if you’re in bad mood, you can instantly lift your spirits by forcing yourself to smile. Your body is more relaxed when you smile, which contributes to good health and a stronger immune system.
Smiling is an act of obedience. We’ve been taught that smiling is a result of circumstances going our way; yet, Jesus taught differently. He spoke of an inner smile. Christ offered the opportunity to experience his peace because he overcame every possible defeat we might encounter; therefore, he instructed, “be of good cheer.” (John 16:33). Friends, inner smiling sets outer smiling into motion.
Smiling leaves a legacy. What will your kids say about you when they are grown and gone? Will they say, “Mom was always grumpy – sad – frustrated – saw life half empty instead of half full? Or will they say, “Mom fostered positive thoughts and drew from her own well-watered cistern of Christ within her. When I think of my mother when I was growing up, I see her smile and countenance that resonated, ‘All is well with my soul.’”
Smiling is something most of us never think about. If we smile, we’re not really conscious of it because it’s something that just comes naturally. But it’s possible to gain a smile that’s supernatural, a smile that comes from the practice of taking off old thoughts and patterns of behavior that lead to sadness, defeat and lack of hope, and put on new thoughts that lead to joy, serenity, and peace of heart. I call it the principle of replacement. As followers of Christ, we have the power through the Holy Spirit within us to overcome every frown with a genuine expression of contentment knowing that God’s in control.
As single moms, you HAVE all you need to relax on the inside and beam on the outside. Why? Because God has promised:
- I will never leave your comfortless (John 14:18)
- I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19).
- I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30)
- I will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:6)
- I work everything together for good (Romans 8:28)
- I called you. I will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
- (And here’s my favorite) You possess my risen power (2 Timothy 1:7)
So isn’t it time to turn our frowns upside down? Good…now say, “Cheese!”
Pam Kanaly, popular author of The Single Mom and Her Rollercoaster Emotions and nominated by the Governor of Oklahoma for "Mother of Achievement Award - 2015 "- remains one of America’s leading advocates for single mothers. As founder of the single mothers’ conferences – Survive ‘N’ Thrive, Pam exudes with a God-given passion in seeing women know their value in Christ. She is the co-founder of the national organization Arise Ministries, having been featured on the 700 Club and other national programs. www.ariseministries.net
Publication date: October 23, 2014