21 Jun 2021

Among the things I missed most about the pandemic lifestyle were smiles. I missed seeing other people smile, and I missed smiling at other people. As a somewhat depressed person my smile is not as ready as I would like. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to take a workshop in Qigong, a Chinese exercise form for gathering, increasing and focusing energy (Qi). The teacher, a very impressive master from China, taught us quite a few techniques, most of which I have forgotten now. But he did tell us he practiced smiling in front of the mirror every day for 30 minutes and recommended we also do it. Now if you have ever tried smiling at yourself in the mirror for even 20 seconds you know how difficult it is, especially if you are a somewhat depressed person like me. I could barely make it to 10 seconds before I felt silly, and my smile slide from genuine to forced.

But I found that if I could dig around and find something to smile about, I could actually extend the smile a few seconds, and dig a little more and smile a little more and so on. I found myself focusing my energy on the positive in myself and also having more energy for others.

When COVID came and the mask mandate began, I had the (manic?) idea to work on having a ready, genuine smile for when the masks came off. I have been smiling at myself in the mirror for a few seconds each day, gathering all that is smile-worthy to myself. A year has gone by, and now in my part of the US, masks have pretty much disappeared. My genuine smile is out there for everyone to see, but oh my goodness! My smile is bigger than before, you can see the gold dental work on my back molars! Now, I wonder, is my smile too big? I have tried smiling smaller, but my old smile just doesn’t feel right. When I feel like smiling, I feel like smiling big!

How do you feel about smiling now, after more than a year undercover? Will it be hard or easy to smile at people again?


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