Phyllis Diller, that crazy and wild Phyllis, once said: ”A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
It is a pretty worthy observance I think. Smiling.
Scientifically, there have been all sorts of studies on the benefits of smiling. Among other things, it is said to improve our moods, relieve our stress, and lower our blood pressures.
But never smile at a crocodile. That will certainly lower your blood pressure.
Oh that happy thing. There are more physical benefits, too. That Mayo Clinic reports that laughter and positive thoughts do some pretty nifty tricks. It release these “signaling molecules” in your brain that fight stress and illnesses. And those people who are always downtrodden? Well, those negative thoughts decrease your body’s immunity. Uh-Oh.
More from Mayo. There was a study done in 2012 that found some things about pain and laughter. Smiling and laughter increases your pain threshold, creating a higher pain tolerance. Stub your toe and the world laughs at you. Stub your toe and you laugh alone. Or. Something.
When you roll it all up into one yummy bite, smiling and positive emotions are associated with increased life spans. Again, the Clinic of Mayo, hold the Mustard. Tasty morsels, all of them.
So our girl Phyllis had things right.
Yesterday, Mary and I were out by our Koi Pond. She was sitting and I was standing diagonally from her. Out of nowhere, we heard a ruckus. I looked down, and there was a huge frog, slopping his way across the patio. All four webbed feet churning this way and that, in a tumbling dance of frenzy. He was so delirious in fact, that he ran right into my shoe, and let out a little, “Ubbbb,” before slathering his way into our pond. Quickly. Kerplunk.
A few seconds later, two small dogs came our way, both of their faces filled with excitement. Mary and I looked at each other and started to laugh, a little uncontrollably. I used the actual WTF expletive, just for good measure.
Even now, as I see the scene again in my mind’s eye, I smile widely at the hilarity and absurdity of the situation. And it feels quite nice, that smiling “thing.”
If you want to know the truth, there was a time when I truly had forgotten to smile. To laugh. That entire part of me, which had once been very capable of lightness, was gone. Snuffed out dark. I didn’t laugh for a long time. These days, I have gotten back around to it, and I am forever grateful that this has occurred. Today, someone brought me a box of Cheez-Its. It made me happy.
It think our happiness is directly connected to our hearts. I read about a certain nerve in our hearts. I can’t remember the name of the nerve, but it is capable of doing its own methods of thinking. And, depending on the situation we are in, it sends out different responses to our body. It has two modes, as I recall. The “fight or flight” mode, or the “rest and digest” mode. Massive cardiac arrest episodes occur when the heart is in the “reactive” mode. That “fight or flight.” It doesn’t give out enough enzyme, and the heart goes, kapowww.
I think back to the frog and the pond. That little green guy was incredibly close to having a heart attack, I am sure. Honest to god, I saw his face. Panic. No smile. And then there was Mary and I. Laughing (shamefully, at the frog’s expense), and our hearts were feeling pretty fine.
And back to us. We humans. We should try to stay on the side of smile, on the positive good, on the path of the laugh. And on those days when it might feel impossible? At the very least, we should keep trying.
“Peace begins with a smile..”
― Mother Teresa
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
“You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.”
― Charlie Chaplin