Editors note: We strongly support and encourage face coverings as a way to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
By Karin Kiser
I don’t care what anyone says. This “new normal” everyone is talking about? It may be new, but it is definitely not normal.
However you feel about face masks, one thing is certain. They are covering up more than just our nose and mouth. While they might be beneficial for slowing the spread of germs, covering our mouths has other unintended consequences.
We can’t see smiles.
We can’t read lips.
We are blocked from natural forms of expression and connection.
None of that is normal.
What is normal is lots of in-person connection, physical touch and smiling. Smiling is a natural expression of kindness, of joy, of our interconnectedness, of the very essence of what it means to be a human being. Smiling is part of the universal humanness that goes beyond culture, class or creed. A genuine smile can be shared and understood by everyone from infants to octogenarians alike, without a word ever being spoken.
On the Camino, smiles and hand gestures quickly become the one of the primary ways of communicating with others. In a single 24-hour period you can find yourself speaking Spanish, French, German, Korean, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Czech and Galician – not with your words, but with your gestures and facial expressions. It’s a universal language, available to all.
When we can’t see smiles or the facial expressions of others, however, we tend to stop smiling ourselves. When we stop smiling, we feel worse. Our world becomes a bit duller. Why is that? Smiling just so happens to change the physical chemistry of our body and our brain for the better. It boosts our happiness. It lowers blood pressure and reduces stress. Smiling even strengthens our immune system.
Smiling is also contagious. It easily spreads to others.
So to counter these times of increasing abnormal, I’ve embarked on a new project I’m calling Smile Anyway. I’m challenging myself to be a smiler and to do my part in shifting our collective dynamic of fear, separation and scarcity to one of genuine kindness and generosity, one smile at a time. You can too.
It doesn’t matter if your mask is covering your smile. Smile anyway. Smile any way you can. Tell people when you are smiling at them from behind your cloth curtain. Consider making or purchasing a mask with a natural-looking smile on it. There’s no need for us to walk around with the ubiquitous light blue disposable mask as if we’re all in a giant hospital. Get creative in getting your genuine smile on.
Be on the lookout for smiles everywhere you go. When you’re in the supermarket, tell people from behind the mask “you can’t tell but I am smiling at you.” Learn to spot the difference between a squint and a smile. Smile at yourself in the mirror with your face covering on and look at your eyes. Now squint and notice the difference. Try other common facial expressions and see how the eyes change. Now look for those differences in others.
These increasingly abnormal times are offering us many opportunities. An opportunity to look at people in the eye. For real. A chance to fine-tune our senses and develop the superpower of seeing, truly seeing what is going on around us and within us in this year-of-clear-vision, 2020. An opportunity to create a better and brighter normal, one smile at a time.
Enjoy freedom from less stress, toxins and clutter with Karin’s book Lighten Your Load: 35 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Free Yourself from Stress, Toxins and Clutter
Karin has a limited quantity of the paperback edition available at 50% discount, so you or a loved one can enjoy freedom from less stress, toxins and clutter for a mere $5. The discount is available through August 31st or while supplies last. Just email support@KarinKiser.com with your name and shipping address and she’ll send you a PayPal link for the $5 (plus $2.95 shipping within the U.S). Please allow 8-10 days for delivery.
Lighten Your Load offers timely strategies for a happier, more fulfilled life. You’ll discover simple, actionable things you can do to get to the root of your stress, and create more time, energy and vitality. You don’t have to do all 35 to benefit from this book. Just a few changes done consistently over time can have a massive impact on your health and happiness.
Make the most of your at-home Camino journey with Karin’s other books:
Your Inner Camino: Your Pocket Guide to Inspiration and Transformation Along the Camino de Santiago
I hosted a book club for the Northern California Chapter with this book and it was a wonderful experience! I even made a book club credencial so we can track progress and earn stamps for a BookClubStella! This is a fun diversion for me and others who would have been on the Camino during the month of May. I will offer this book club to the public in the future. Stay tuned!
About the book: You don’t have to be on the Camino to benefit from this book. It’s a guide to personal development and change. The insights and suggestions apply to anyone looking for answers or more aliveness in their life, and those wanting new ways of managing and responding positively to the inevitable changes that life brings. It’s like having a personal coach, a comedian and a therapist right in your pocket for easy access. Available from Camino Chronicles Press. The book is also available on Kindle: https://amzn.to/2SfL2Yx
Free and Clear: 7 Steps to Declutter Your Home and Your Head
This practical approach to decluttering gets to the root of the problem. Here you won’t find another method to fold your shirts or rearrange household items. Instead, Free and Clear uncovers the real issue of why we accumulate all that stuff in the first place. Decluttering is one thing. Not re-cluttering is another. This book helps you break the re-cluttering habit so you can stay clutter-free for good. Check it out on Amazon here.
Read more of Karin Kiser’s guest posts:
Purchase her books at www.caminochroniclespress.com or kindle versions on amazon.com.
7 thoughts on “Smile Anyway”
Looking forward to the public book club…I need some fellow peregrinos to relate to! Trying my best to keep smiling right now…hope all is well.
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Pablo, I know, it’s been very challenging and hard to smile lately. Things will get better. They simply must!
I will let you know when next book club can happen. I need a break from zoom meetings. Maybe there’s a way to do a virtual book club through this blog or your blog. If you want to collaborate, let me know.
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In this moment, Face Covering is the way we contribute to humanity. Containing our vapor is how we help protect each other. The camaraderie of being in this together helps us to work together to overcome this pandemic. Please make it clear from sentence #1 that this is an important goal.
There are other ways to smile. Thumbs up. Thank you for covering. Good morning. Not seeing the smile on the face does not mean that we are not giving good and reinforcing feedback to each other.
Let us find ways to smile while covered. A cheery good morning or afternoon works wonders.
Runners and cyclist are NOT exempt. We are all on the planet.
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Thank you, Jayah. I agree and like your other suggestions. I added a note to the top of this post.
I heard about a free course that is offered from Yale University. “In this course you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.” I knew some people at work that had taken this course and tell me its worth it.
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Hi Ken, thanks for the link. I might sign up.
Your welcome….when work slows down a bit I may even sign up as well.