the half smile

“Smiling to yourself is like basking in love: you become your own best friend. Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself.”
“By transforming destructive emotions into positive energy the inner smile removes the cause and symptoms of disharmony”  – Mantak Chia

“Peace begins with a Smile” – Mother Theresa

When I’m deep in thought, I frown … It must be the strain or the effort as I’m always mulling things over in my head looking for neat little places to place an idea or theory. Its what my face naturally does and it’s never bothered me but I remember years ago either walking to school or through town and complete strangers looking at me concerned, they would frown back in mirroring my expression but add a positive phrase “cheer up, it can’t be that bad”, and then half smile at me as if to offer encouragement. I hate to think I caused unnecessary concern to anyone and I was mortified, as I must have looked so sullen. I have just always, it seems, has a serious looking face and mostly serious to anyone other than those close to me.

So, several months ago, I started doing The Half Smile.  It sounds ridiculously simple but it works. It feels a little forced and fake to begin with but physically and socially it does change your demeanour. I did start to feel more calm, less stressed as I was out and about. People respond a lot more positively to you as well which in turn, creates a more positive cycle.

In Tao tradition positive and negative emotions are directly aligned with the internal organs. One of the keys to good health is to become aware of the emotional energies that reside in our organs, then to transform the negative emotional energies into positive traits.  Ayurvedic principles teach that we greet one another with a pleasant face, in Proverbs 15.13 of the Bible, it’s written  A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit“. The Taoist inner smile teaches that it arises from a loving intention, surfaces on the face then suffuses our internal and external reality. Though a smile may feel fake initially our psychophysiology responds with happiness anyway. Respected Monk Thich Nhat Hanh explains, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

Research by French physiologist Dr Israel Waynbaum infers that facial muscles used to express emotion trigger specific brain neurotransmitters. Smiling signals endorphins and immune boosting killer t-cells whereas frowning triggers the secretion of stress hormones cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenaline. The happy hormones released stabilise blood pressure,  improve respiration, relax muscles, reduce pain, accelerate healing and help to stabilise mood.

Someone smiles at you at you and you fell edified, encouraged, hopeful … Someone frowns at you and be it brief or lingering you are surrounded by a feeling of judgement, scorn or embarrassment. We may not believe we’re receptive to the merest slight of facial expressions but we truly are. We just process things at such a rate now I don’t believe many of us are truly aware of why or how we feel the way we do a lot of the time. Within a few in a nano-seconds our transitory emotions can be supremely air-lifted or body slammed into the ground.

Places to practise your half smile:

  • as soon as you wake – this will aid you in approaching the day in a calmer manner
  • waiting in a queue  – once impatience starts to rear it’s ugly head, prepare your half smile
  • when you’re starting to get stressed – breathe and do what you know you should

Still not convinced … Famous Half Smilers (tongue in cheek) … Madonna – as in The Virgin Mary, Buddha, Mona Lisa and Kate Middleton.

In short, I’ve tried it, it works !

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Ruby says:

    I will agree with the Tao part but I will disagree with the fake half smile. If you find a real heart warming reason to smile in a place that is surrounded with negative energies, it’s when you release your positive energy to your surroundings. The fake smile celebrities, well this is another story. 🙂


  2. palomino72 says:

    Good call Ruby, you’re right about finding and having a real smile to heal the negative energies with but i was writing it for people who don’t smile or feel any joy to smile. Its a case of which came first the chicken or the egg. If you have nothing to feel happy about ‘fake’ the half smile for a while and your emotions and physiology will change to create an inner peace eventually 🙂


  3. Eve says:

    Half Smile is used in DBT skills as well. I love the simple things we can do to bring mindfulness and happiness to our lives. Thank you for this post. I also wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog and hope to see you back! I will be writing plenty more about holism in mental health practice.


  4. Brook says:

    Palomino!!! I’ve missed you!!! So glad to see you over at my place. I love this beautiful post about how making the effort to even half smile can help us find joy. *Thank you* dear Radiant Lady:)


    1. sandra says:

      Hi Brook ! I know, I like to disappear every now and then 🙂 I missed you too and keeping tabs on ‘the regulars’. Its so nice to hear from you again, I hope life is treating you kindly x


      1. Brook says:

        Sandra…I do the same….disappearing every now and then:) But so enjoyed seeing you here again and at my place. *Thank you* again:)


  5. Have you ever heard of laughing yoga? We just studied it in my class… Def seems up your alley 🙂


    1. sandra says:

      No I haven’t heard of that Jess. I’ve been a bit out of the loop recently. Please spill more info … (that way we’re all getting your Harvard Education for free !)


      1. But of course! 🙂 So here’s the bio of the guest speaker who introduced the concept to our class: ..She was really great! And this link will tell you everything you need to know! 🙂 It has videos, scientific studies, the works! 🙂


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