Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Mini-Mindfulness Challenge: Smile

Mind-Mindfulness Challenge

Welcome to Week 1 of the Mini-Mindfulness Challenge.  I’m so glad you’re here!

Did you know that mindfulness can reduce stress, improve your health, and uplift your mood?  Most importantly, it can help you discern between beneficial actions that bring happiness and harmful actions that bring distress – for yourself and others.

There’s just one hitch when it comes to mindfulness:  Remembering to be mindful.

You want to be present in the moment, right?  But before you’re know it, your mind is off in Paris, reviewing a hurt from the past, or worrying about the future.

The Mini-Mindfulness Challenge will offer a simple prompt each week – for 4 weeks – to help you find more ease.  The “challenge” will be easy, fun, and relaxed.

Mini-Mindfulness Challenge – Week 1:  Smile

This week’s mini-mindfulness challenge is simple and enjoyable:

Whenever you see someone, look at them softly and smile in a relaxed way.

Often, we barely notice the person next to or in front of us because we’re so lost in our own inner world.  Mindfully smiling at each person – in a relaxed way – will bring you into the present moment.

Who can resist a smile?

When you smile and connect with other people via your eyes, they’ll almost always smile back.  This simple gift of a smile invites them to enjoy the richness of the present moment too.

And doesn’t smiling make you feel better as well?

Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin, substances that make you feel good.  Smiling may also increase immune function, extend your longevity, and reduce your blood pressure.

So give it a try this week!  Let each person you see be the trigger that reminds you to mindfully smile.  If you don’t have a joyful heart at first, you’ll soon find one emerging.

But don’t force a smile if you’re not in the mood or it feels false or intrusive.

Remember, the key point is mindfulness.  Any act, like smiling, can become automatic while our mind is a million miles away.  So be present, mindful, and aware as you share each smile.

Mini-Mindfulness Challenge:  Suggested Guidelines

  • Practice the prompt for a full week if possible.  If not, try it out for 4-5 days.
  • Go at your own pace.  You don’t have to smile at every single person you see unless you want to.
  • If you forget, that’s okay. Forgetting is a normal part of the process of learning to be mindful.  Just start again as soon as you remember.
  • Never reprimand yourself for forgetting.  Be gentle and encouraging instead.
  • Don’t get stressed!  Approach the exercise with playful curiosity.
  • Each day celebrate your accomplishment to reinforce it.  Even if you mindfully smiled just once that day, it’s a good start.
  • Keep track of your experience in a journal if you would like, but don’t obsess about getting it “right” or collecting the largest number of smiles.
  • Return here the next Wednesday to receive a new prompt and share your experience with us.

Simple Tricks to Help You Remember Mindfulness

These simple tricks will help you to remember to be mindful:

  • Write “smile” on a post it-note, and place it in a prominent place where you’ll see it often.
  • Set a timer on your watch, computer, or SMART phone to beep once an hour (or however often you like) as a reminder.
  • Collect a few quotes on smiling and reflect on one each day.  Here’s one to get you started:

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Our mind has been wandering around in the past and future for eons.  It will take time to learn to be present in the moment so try to let go of expectations, relax, and enjoy the process.  The Mini-Mindfulness Challenge provides a structure to make mindfulness easier for you.

If you would like to know more about what mindfulness is and what it is not, please read my article:  You Can Beat Stress With Mindfulness.

Do you find it easy to be mindful in daily life?  Have you experimented with mindfulness before?

Wishing you a mindful week full of smiles!

Thank you for your presence.  If you have a moment, please help me reach others by sharing this post.  If you’re new, please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra

 

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33 Comments

  1. Jean Sampson

    Well, this one is easy-peasy for me, because I am smiling all the time. I smile at and usually say “Hi” to just about everyone I pass. When people don’t return the smile or greeting, I just bless them and go on to the next one. I think this comes from living in a small southern town (which has gotten to be a city ) and living here in the same house all my life. Several days ago, I saw an elderly man sitting on a bench waiting for a bus and smiled and said “Hi” and he thanked me for the smile! I thanked him back! 🙂 🙂 Thank YOU, Sandra!

    • Well, guess I’ll just have to think up something difficult for you! Just kidding. 🙂 I think easy-peasy is good at the start. I’m glad you’re good at this already. The key is to mindful, present and aware when you smile, which you probably are – look how you lifted up that guy on the bench. Any activity can become automatic though, so just saying the key is being present too.

      Love that you have this done and it brings you and others so much joy!

      • Jean Sampson

        Yeah, each smile is a decision, believe it or not! 🙂 And it won’t be hard at all to think up something difficult for me——–like not worrying 🙂 That one is a lifetime work in progress! 🙂 Love and smiles to you! 🙂

        • Beautiful > each smile is a decision! You have it down perfectly. Yes, worry might be a little more challenging for all of us!

  2. I was looking forward to the start of this Sandra! I imagine that the feedback of a smile from the other person will be uplifting too. Looking forward to trying it.

    • So glad you’re with us, Dan. Yes, I’ve personally found that the feedback from the other person is almost always uplifting. So I think there’s an extra bonus when we using smiling as the object of our mindfulness. We see how easy it is to uplift ourselves and others. The key point though is strengthen our mindfulness through this exercise and we just happen to be doing it in a joyful way!

  3. Sandra this is wonderful and we are thinking similarly. My post on my new blog tomorrow talks about kindness and smiling. Love this mini-challenge. 🙂

  4. I’m smiling Sandra!! xo

  5. I’m smiling just thinking about this 🙂

  6. I had to chuckle and smile when I read the part about remembering to be mindful because it is so true for me. Wonder when, if ever, it just becomes second nature? I understand and even say on my blogs that, with neuroplasticity, your brain changes to support the new habit. I am more mindful than I used to be. So I guess it is happening ever so slowly, inch by inch!

    • I think it’s so true for all of us, Debbie! The fact that you’re more mindful than you used to be is a great sign. It is happening, but naturally it takes time and dedication. I know you have those qualities in bushels!

  7. I think this challenge will be very helpful for a lot of people. I personally smile whenever I am talking with someone or see someone. It is just my natural reaction so I don’t need to consciously practice smiling. I will try to be mindful when I am talking to someone and see how I feel and observe how they are reacting and so forth. Thanks for the reminder to practice mindfulness.

  8. That’s lovely, Sebastian! I’m sure it makes for a warm feeling of connection wherever you go. You’ve got a great mindfulness substitute for smiling. There are many different “objects” that can be used to support our mindfulness. Smiling is just one.

    I’m glad you feel the challenge is beneficial. Be well!

  9. I think this is something I’ve become good at, but it did take practice for me! I learned to smile even in situations when it was completely forced. Along the way I came to understand the power and the benefit of having a natural and appealing smile.

    I love the tip to set a reminder with a periodic beep. A reminder to be mindful! Love that. 🙂
    Eric

    • That’s an awesome accomplishment, Eric. Smiling is such a wonderful way to uplift almost any situation. Glad you like the idea of the periodic beep!

  10. So many times, we smile out of habit but to smile mindfully connects us on a much deeper level. I like the idea of writing “smile” on a post it note. Writing “smile” on a post it note in a prominent place is a great way to remember to smile mindfully. Thanks for reminding me to smile mindfully 🙂

    • You’ve really captured such an important point, Gladys! Thank you for reminding us that smiling mindfully connects us in a deeper and, I think, more satisfying way.

      Reminders help! I’m glad you like the post it note idea. As always, you’re very welcome.

  11. Just reading this had me smiling more. I smile at people and say hello and when they ignore me wish them well and send love
    namaste

  12. I saw a lady yesterday whom I suspect had had a stroke. Apparently, she is our tailor’s mother and her face muscles are paralysed making her speech a bit slurry, She is paralysed waist down. I was there to pick up my son’s trousers that I had left the day before for some alterations. We spoke and when I smiled, she tried her best to smile back although I knew she had hard time because of her paralysed face muscles. Yet, her eyes were “all smiles”. That’s when I realised that you really don’t need anything to be able to smile!
    Ilgın

    • What an inspiring story, Ilgin! This story shows us that smiling truly comes from the inside. What a wonderful moment of connection. I’m so happy you share this story. It says so much. Thank you!

  13. When I first moved to NYC many, many years ago, I continued a long-time habit of smiling at nearly everyone with whom I crossed paths. One day, a small shop merchant, having noticed my practice, kindly gave me the following advice: “If you smile at strangers in NYC, you are inviting trouble.” I smiled at him and thanked him for his advice but upon walking out his door realized I couldn’t stop.
    Smiling at others is way, way too rewarding an experience to give up based on fear. And absolutely nothing negative has ever happened to me anywhere in the world as a result of smiling.

    Even before consciously realizing the extent to which smiling brings me into the present and establishes a simple but beautiful relationship with everyone on my path, I found the practice incredibly rewarding in that most people will smile in return, reminding me of our simple human connection, which I now recognize as interdependence.

    So dear Sandra, I’m with Jean Simpson, who wants to be reminded next not to worry.

    • Hi Judith,

      I’m so glad you didn’t listen to the man in New York. You’ve expressed so beautifully all the benefits smiling can bring for oneself and others. I also found that most people smile in return and the whole experience brightens my life.

      I promised this Mini-Mindfulness Challenge would be “fun” so I’ll put on my creative thinking cap and see how I can fit worry into one of the challenges. Actually, it would be fun to worry less. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your amazing experience with smiling.

  14. This was the best and most fun exercise I’ve had in a while. I found myself amking more eye contact and actually taking a moment to look at the person I was smiling at. I can’t wait for the next one. 🙂

    • Hi Maria, I’m so glad you enjoyed the mindful smiling exercise! How wonderful you were able to connect briefly with each person. That truly changes the quality of our life. Thanks for sharing and letting us know how it went.

  15. Donna Clark

    Thanks for week 1. Interesting observation that I had is that when I thought about relaxing my eyes for smiling I noticed I was clenching teethe together on my left side. It happened over and over again. I didn’t know I was clenching!

    So, now I remember to smile and relax my eyes and my entire jaw. I’m sure this is no surprise to you but it has improved my mood and my feeling of stregth.

    Looking forward to week 2.

    Appreciatively,
    Donna Clark

  16. Donna Clark

    Whoops – Forgot to add that the smile I gave with relaxed eyes and face felt more deep and connection seeking than my usual surface smile. That felt great!

  17. This as an easy one for me. Smiling just comes naturally. I am not a super cheerful kind of person but I am content and that is the key for me. Thanks for the Mini-Mindfulness Challenge month. Looking forward to what’s coming.

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