National Smile Week

When you’re smiling on the outside you change how you feel on the inside. When you see someone else smile it makes you smile. The whole “smiling is contagious” theory is true! Why? Well, I am a firm believer that when you think positive, you get positive, and when you think negative you get negative. Yes, it takes work and diligence to notice the positive things in life. When people have depression their thinking is drawn to the negative. There could be a room full of bright colors, fresh brewed coffee, and a warm environment and a person feeling depressed will block out all the “good feeling” senses and fixate in finding fault somewhere in that room.

There is a difference between clinical depression and environmental depression however. Similarities involve chronic negative thinking and an inability to overcome or challenge negative thoughts as they arise. There is a saying that goes A feeling is just a feeling/A thought is just a thought Holding our initial reaction to feelings and thoughts allows us to momentarily pause and choose a positive swing on what we see and how we choose to react to it. It gives our brain a few seconds to challenge our first impression. Try it and you will discover that you are less likely to wish you could turn back time or had a backspace button for what you say! It feels good to think before speaking-less regrets that way!

The second week in August is National Smile week! I found it exciting that a week is devoted to promoting smiling because we all feel better when we see people smile or when we smile ourselves. Here are some examples of what to do to smile more or to have some fun reasons to smile:

Have a “smile off” and see who can smile the longest.

Tell a joke each day on Facebook or to co-workers (please keep it clean).

Make a list of what and who makes you smile.

Walk around and take note of people who are smiling and try to come up with a reason they may be smiling.

Send a card to a friend or loved one (they will smile = you smile).

Listen to your favorite songs.

Dance in the rain (I think we have enough lately!)

Look at photos of happy memories.

Pamper yourself: Go to the dentist, pay to have teeth professionally whitened, spa trip, pedicure, etc.

Tell others how much you love them.

You do have the power to change your thoughts and your life; it can all start with a smile! If you would like to talk to someone about depressive feelings and learn ways to change your reaction to negative life situations, Family Services is here for you. You just have to want it!

Michelle Williams, LCSW, is the executive director of Family Services of Warren County, a charitable agency that provides counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups to individuals, couples, and families. Like Family Services on Facebook and invite your friends and family to do the same.