Start With Your Face
BY DAVID S. LEWIS
A trance pervades this world regarding the way things supposedly have to be. Who says, for example, that nothing is permanent except death and taxes, that if something can go wrong, it will (Murphy’s so-called Law), or that all the world’s a stage and we are merely players (I personally have always wanted to direct)? Then there’s that whole thing about Monday, a perfectly good day, and, all totaled, one seventh of your life. No, there’s a collective trance at work out there that all too many of us have bought into without a second thought. It’s called, That’s just the way it is—things never change.
Men of insight, men in granite, knights in armor intent on chivalry (as Van Morrison put it) have had no such delusions about the way it is. Rather, like master hypnotists, they realize that an entirely malleable public consciousness, and their own, is just waiting for hypnotic suggestions, not about the way things have to be, but about the way things shall be, given the changes they will usher in.
These days, the phenomenon is most apparent in the market place, given our commercial culture. Someone gets a vision, like wireless technology, smartphones, iPads, and all of a sudden the way it is is not the way it was—everybody’s doing things differently than before in a revolutionary way.
Revolutions happen regularly, in fact, revolving the social order into a new paradigm. Look at the American Revolution, an event that shook up the established order, then the Berlin Wall coming down, which apparently only Ronald Reagan had the courage to perceive as something that could happen; and so he told Gorbachev to tear it down, horrifying the more pusillanimous pundits of the day. Reagan’s advisors actually took the line, which he wrote, out of his speech, but he said it anyway. His simple statement, filled with conviction that the wall ought not stand, seemed to echo in eternity, as Marcus Aurelius said, for the reverberation was tremendous—just a few years later the people of Berlin tore it down themselves.
Indeed, things that ought not be and whose time has passed seem to fall of their own weight if given a nudge.
A reader might wonder if this is leading to some specific recommendation for 2014, a course of action. It is, but not one you might imagine, and one that has nothing to do with global politics, or any politics. The point is, what man has done, man can do—the seemingly unchangeable can change. Things can change for the better in small and great ways. It is only a matter of vision and initiative. And it can start right now in a small, seemingly insignificant but thoroughly meaningful way.
Ever thought about changing your life? Ever wonder how to go about it? This may sound simplistic, but try wearing a smile. Just a little one, all day long. Paste it on like a post-it note. Let it become your habit, and feel your smile’s smooth pleasing texture pervade your face and mind—releasing happy hormones and impulses through gentle pressure placed on the pituitary and pineal glands, the endocrine system being connected to currents of subtle energy—as purported in accupunc-ture, yoga, chiropractic, Tai Chi, and so on. And when someone asks, how are you? Say with a smile, Wonderful—and you? Try this for a week, then a month. You may be surprised at the results and find that you have changed your life for the better.
A snarling cynic might dismiss such a proposition—but whose state of mind would you prefer, or wish for loved ones, that of a child beaming with joy (see image left) or that of an old grump who gets up on the wrong side of the bed every day?
It’s really that simple, and leaving aside deeper clinical issues requiring a more therapeutic approach, smiling is perhaps the best medicine available for psychological health. Human beings are to a significant degree creatures of habit—and hypnotic trance, according to experts, is commonly expressed as habit, doing things repetitively without thinking, even wearing a frown. So break the trance.
In the human brain and body, certain habitual stimuli correlate to chemicals that induce feelings. Smiling, as noted, stimulates glandular secretions—even a little smile (don’t worry, your face won’t crack). And then metaphysically—well, that is indeed another paradigm, the ramifications of which are far-reaching. Let’s just say smiling, like laughter, is contagious, and that if more people did it the world would be a better place by means of the positivity released. Imagine, then, the entire world smiling simultaneously, grinning ear to ear, an event that would probably alter the fabric of reality.
If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re considering the reasoning involved. Maybe you’re considering smiling (just a little one will do). You may even be smiling right now and noticing how it makes you feel, that subtle but noticeable sensation of happiness that permeates your mind and being.
The trick is to keep smiling, even as other thoughts come along, as they invariably will. Write smile on your hand, your phone, inside your front door, the sun visor in your car—reminders that life is worth living and that this simple act transforms body and mind through your Spirit.
Happy New Year—keep smiling.