What's A Smile Got To Do With It?

What's A Smile Got To Do With It?

Surprisingly, the answer is: a lot.

Have you ever been walking down the street and been so engrossed in a rather upsetting thought in your mind that you've had a perpetually distraught look on your face? Have you ever seen anyone else like this? How did that make you feel? Think about the moments when you've seen someone smiling. Even if it's just to them. How did they make you feel?

Feelings are of course very subjective, but generally people model behavior. You see someone smiling and laughing, and you don't have a reason not to join in, so you smile to yourself too. People's positivity rubs off on you. In the same way, when someone is in a bad mood, it doesn't take much for you to have your mood spoiled either.

How many times have you walked down the street and passed by someone you know, and you've exchanged a smile and a "Hey!"? How did that make you feel? How many times has someone passed you by and not acknowledged you, and how did that make you feel? These questions may seem incredibly arbitrary, but they're designed to illustrate how important it is to pay attention to the people around you and the way you're presenting yourself.

Even just passing by smiling or frowning strangers can make you feel differently, however subconscious or subtle the feeling is. I've tried to adopt the principle in life to always be a smiling persona, no matter where I'm passing by, I should always find myself smiling. Or at the very least, not frowning.

A simple smile goes a long, long way, as we've all heard. In fact, some studies have shown that a simple smile, even shared among strangers, makes people feel as though they already know each other. The science behind that theory has to do with our ancient ancestors, where human survival depended on groups, so humans would smile as a way to show friendliness to one another. The tiny smile that you see on passer-by's faces?

That actually has some real scientific reasoning, called subliminal priming, that backs up why you feel more positive or happier. Mirroring has been researched too; people mimic what they see. Even if it's just for a fleeting second, you mimic the smiles that you see in a crowd of people.

Think about how many times you've been served coffee by someone with a smile. A real smile, not a fake, half-smile that just made you feel uncomfortable. Those experiences usually leave you with the best customer satisfaction, right? Employers actually work that kind of training into their customer service models, for this exact reason. Seeing a smile makes you smile, and smiles mean you're happy.

So, all in all, spreading positivity can be as simple as putting a smile on your face when walking down the street.

Cover Image Credit: Maya Thomas

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Poem: Get Over You

I wish you knew how I really feel

This is the poem when your heart keeps you in an unhealthy relationship. You never liked the way they made you feel, but you still give in. This is the poem where you decide to finally fight back, and finally say what you have to say and feel what you really feel.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue;

I can’t wait to get the hell over you.

Sometimes I wish I knew how much pain you caused me.

Sometimes I wish I never even met you.

Maybe for once I wouldn’t feel like a fool.

A fool for letting you in.

Only to weaken me.

But I shouldn’t have to push this pain aside,

and pretend you’re the best thing to happen to me.

I wish I told myself that earlier,

because as the years go on,

the easier it is for me to fall head over heels for you.

So why am I still doing this?

I tell you how I feel to your face,

but you don’t listen.

You just stand there and clap when I’m done speaking.

I have to explain everything to you,

but it only goes over your head,

and I’m still the idiot.

Everyone scoffs as I don’t even listen to myself.

Brainwashed by the infatuation rushing into the room.

I guess holding your hand

is no different from two glasses of pinot noir.

I don’t know why I still let you get to me,

and I guess that’s why you still break me down,

but manage to hold my heart in your hands.

My heart wants me to love you,

but I don’t think I know what I want

so I settle for good enough.

Roses are Red,

Violets are Blue,

I think I should find someone new.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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How Can Our Generation Make An Impact On The Addicted Population?

We see good people succumb to terrible habits and addictions, but there are ways to turn it around and see things in a different light.

The sad truth of the matter is that the younger population is the overwhelming majority of people that make up the addiction population. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the United States is facing one of the worst opioid epidemics where at least 116 people die from opioid-related drug overdoses (as of an estimation from 2016) on a daily basis.

If you take a larger look at the situation at hand, young adults from 18 to 25 years of age are the biggest abusers of prescription opioid pain relievers. Those numbers, unfortunately, are reaching a maximum high as the years go by.

It takes one reason to pick up a joint, pop a pill, do a line, or shoot up once. Peer pressure, letting loose, and never backing down from a challenge tends to be one of the main reasons for doing so.

Carefree and innocent to a certain extent, the young adults of our generation think that they are invincible to the point that one time will not hurt them. It is probably what makes it acceptable to do ridiculous, life-threatening stunts such as the 'Tide-pod' challenge.

While this is an age-old discussion with no new facts brought to the table, there is a human behind the addiction that we tend to forget and that I want to bring to the forefront. The young generation that thought that the one time trial would not affect them now have fallen from grace.

Strung out and listless, they may not be resilient enough to go back on the straight and narrow because of deeper issues that are still being ruminated about. So whatever the initial reason was to start out on this path of experimentation then turned into a full-blown illness that has gotten so out of control. As bystanders, we tend to marginalize the issue, toss it under the carpet, and forget that it exists.

I do not claim to be an expert on addiction. I have not spent years studying this population or have people that I know succumb to the illness, but I do know what it feels like to make a judgment call on these people. For the last several weeks, I have had the opportunity to get a glimpse of what has happened or not happened to these people. It is eye-opening, to say the least, and it made me reflect on a few things.

Mental health, in general, is something that society tends to avoid. Opening up to the people around you is difficult to begin with, but it is even harder when you do not know why you feel the way you feel.

Perspective on your life situation becomes warped and the people around you who think they know you make it easy to convince yourself that you are in the wrong. It is unresolved issues and undiagnosed mental disorders, that push people into substance abuse and we tend to not recognize it.

Those who suffer substance abuse or addictions feel that the only source of support is the substance itself. The most memorable thing I have heard from behavior group therapy is this:

[Substances] does not talk back, does not demand attention, and does not need comfort. It is just a friend that waits for you like a loyal puppy. And for a vast number of people suffering from addiction, it is a true statement. When people have failed to love and support them, substance abusers tend to go for the substance whether it be alcohol or opioids.

For those who do not suffer from addiction, we lose sight of what is important for the people who do. A first reaction to seeing someone who is suffering addiction is to take a blame game stand. "You are not trying hard enough," is a typical response for some who do not understand how addiction keeps a person captive. To the people who suffer addictions, the main focus tends to be how to get relief from the things that are uncomfortable. It does not make it easy when the people around them are not supportive.

So what should the next steps be? We are peers of many people who suffer addiction and are in a position to make a real impact. Our jobs (however difficult it may be) are to listen and recognize when someone needs help. And it starts when addiction (opioid or otherwise) is treated like an illness.

It is 10 times easier to relate to someone who is suffering from diabetes than it is to someone suffering from mental illness or addiction, which is saddening and sobering. The first step that all of us can do to put a dent in reducing the number of overdoses and deaths is to help others make the right choices for them. It is easier said than done, but it can make a world of difference in someone's life.

So if ever a friend or a family member musters the courage to admit they have a problem, it may be a good first step to turn off the judgment and lend an ear.

Cover Image Credit: flickr.com

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