Smile Like You Mean It

Yes, I took today’s title from the song by the Killers. Anyone who hasn’t heard it, go look it up, it’s on their album Hot Fuss, released…well, a long time ago.

Here is what today looked like for me:

I woke up at 7 am to my alarm clock and got up grudgingly. I threw on my exercise clothes and trudged to the bathroom to splash some water on my face. I trudged back to my bedroom and quickly straightened my bed and tidied up. Went upstairs, took my meds and did my breathing treatments (more medications in case that term is unfamiliar), ate breakfast (or drank, really, as my breakfast was an apple-banana-strawberry-orange-kale-carrot smoothie) and left with my aunt and uncle for a 9am Tai Chi class.

Next, farmers market in Lake Oswego.

Then home for a few hours, during which I watched a little television, ate lunch, and did my afternoon muscle strength exercises.

Then off to a blues/jazz/pop concert with my aunt and uncle and my other lovely aunt, Laura, where we listened to a fantastic alto saxophone player Ben Fowler. Look him up if you have the chance.

Then to dinner at Native Cafe in Bridgeport. They serve vegan cheeseburgers. I had a gluten-free, vegan curry bowl. It had too much kale, but otherwise was awesome.

Now, after a cup of tea and some conversation, I’m home writing this.

So much for brief outline. Sorry, I can go on and on sometimes.

And actually, that is what this post is about. What do do when I’m faced with a situation that seems to go on and on and is causing me pain or boredom or annoyance or frustration or confusion or even anger? That’s a good question for me to ask myself because these situations, however and whenever they occur, can be dangerous to me and my quest for wellness.

Boiling it down to brass tacks (as they say), when I am in a situation that is making me feel uncomfortable, I have a tendency to want to escape. I have gone to some extreme lengths to avoid feeling uncomfortable, including injecting heroin into my veins. Sorry if that is shocking to anyone, but this blog is about truth and about me sharing my experience with you. If you don’t like it, I can’t force you to keep reading. But I digress. The issue is that the means I have used in the past to escape an experience I don’t like has been destructive to my mind, body, and soul. On this journey toward optimal wellness, I can’t do the things I used to do when I was feeling out of sorts.

This all came to mind after considering one simple thing about today: I was in pain. The whole day. I woke up with an ache deep in my shoulder. After Tai Chi, my shoulder no longer hurt, but my upper back and neck felt stiff and soon became quite painful. Just before my afternoon exercises I began to have a piercing headache, which exercise only exacerbated. This headache finally dissipated, but not before my neck and shoulder began to hurt again. And as I am writing this, I still feel that tension and pain in my neck.

All day, I kept thinking of what I could do to “fix” these problems. Was there a stretch I could perform? A pill I could take? What if I drank more water? What if I took a nap?

These things occupied the space in my mind to the point that I often was not self-aware. I started to make myself a cup of tea about 45 min before we were leaving for the concert this evening. I totally forgot about it and the tea bag sat, steeping in the water, until I returned home 3 hours later.

And then, in preparation for writing this post, I considered the fact that despite all my mental effort, the pain stayed with me. And I realized that part of my quest for wellness involves accepting the fact that sometimes, I won’t be as comfortable as I’d like.

Sometimes, I will feel pain. Sometimes it may hurt so bad that I don’t want to do anything. But if I want to continue on my quest and expand the possibilities for myself I must act and press on, even when I wish I didn’t have to.

This is where we hit the reason for today’s title. Because when life hurts, you still have to live it. And I am finding that the best thing for me to do when I’m in pain or frustrated or overwhelmed is to smile, and to smile like I mean it. What I am noticing is that when I smile like I truly mean it, I find, despite the circumstances, that I often do.

 

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