Smiles not only show the world how happy we are, they also contribute to our good health. Seriously, scientists have studied smiles extensively, and will tell us smiles can trigger the release of neural communication boosting neuropeptides as well as mood-boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Whew lots of big words! Here is some backup from Very Well Mind.
We smile when we are happy, and we can help ourselves feel happy by smiling…that’s kinda neat when you think about it! What makes us happy? Some people think they would be happy ‘if only’…if only they lived in a better house, drove a newer car, got a promotion at work. In my world of dogs, some think gaining titles or extreme wins will make them happy.
As wonderful as those sound, are these realistic goals? If you don’t title your dog in three events or you can’t upgrade your car, what can you do to put smiles on your face?
Years ago, my husband was in home hospice. When he died I called family and friends, letting them know, and told them I was doing fine. One of them called back, telling me she was coming and to deal with it. When she arrived, she asked what I wanted to do. We could clean out the garage, try to catch up on the gardens, or just go walking with the dogs. What would make ME happy.
I stopped to take a deep breath. After months of hospital visits, acute care visits, then home nursing responsibilities, I had forgotten how to be happy. What I wanted was a day away from responsibilities, from duties. We went to Madrid, a funky artist’s community with eclectic shops. We went to my favorite libations store in Albuquerque. Nothing fancy, we just hung out together, and she left the next day.
Over the next months…years…I kept her suggestion in mind. What would make me happy? Often it was little things, like new garden plants, washing dishes before the sink overflowed. Taking the constant pile of cardboard to recycle can often soothe me for days. Little things but they helped keep me smiling. Whenever possible I share the question. Sometimes the wish is surprisingly easy to help fulfill.
So…what makes you happy?