I’ll start out with the inevitable backlash this title could produce. I am not suggesting that you walk through life with a smile plastered on your face and respond to every difficulty with a trite cliché. (Well, tomorrow is another day). However, there is something to be said for allowing our actions to dictate our emotions, not the other way around.
This is an area I know I need to work on. When my kids are frustrating me, that doesn’t obligate me to respond to them that way. I realized recently that I’ve allowed myself to begin walking through life with a haggard, exhausted look on my face. Am I tired sometimes? Sure, but not always and the expression has become a habit. You see smiling can become a habit too. I’m not talking about the fake smile mentioned above, but the calm practiced kind that comes from realizing that everything really is going to be OK; even if the dog threw up on the carpet (again), the kids broke the DVD player (again) and you just plain don’t want to cook another meal or do another load of laundry. According to Mandi at Life Your Way , smiling may actually be the secret to promoting a positive attitude in your house. It changes our muscles and can change our mood.
I like when Jamie mentions an example in this chapter of a tired, frustrated mom who chooses to have a tickle fight with her kids. When my kids fight and I get tired of breaking it up, I usually want to escape. That’s how I feel. But what if I injected myself into the situation instead of running from it? If when my kids were fighting I suggested something fun for all of us to do together? If I did that enough times maybe I would start to feel differently about my interactions with them.
There is a spiritual component to this as well. Sometimes it’s OK to speak to something that is not, as though it is. I’m not suggesting you spend money you don’t have or stop taking needed medication. I’m saying that when dealing with seemingly impossible situations we can choose to respond to hope, even if we don’t feel it right then. Did you know that when you fake hope you can actually help make it happen? Saying “When things get better in this area of my life” rather than if. Choosing to highlight the small progress that is being made in your life rather than the huge work left to do.
So really Jamie isn’t saying we should fake it exactly, we’re just giving our emotions time to catch up with our wills. Decide to make today a good day, even if it doesn’t feel like one. Maybe by the end it will be.