What's A Smile Got To Do With It?

What's A Smile Got To Do With It?

Surprisingly, the answer is: a lot.
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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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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things. If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity towards this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you, if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs. In a world where a six figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm..

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Digestive Issues And Food Intolerances Turned My Life Upside Down At 17

For as long as I could remember, I was never a picky eater.

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For as long as I could remember, I was never a picky eater. I liked most foods and didn't have any allergies or intolerances. I was a "normal" kid who could eat whatever I wanted. That all changed when I turned 17.

A few months before my 17th birthday, I got food poisoning and felt awful for two weeks. I didn't want to eat anything, as I feared it would make me sick again. Over the next two months, I lost 20 lbs because I had almost stopped eating entirely. I was afraid that I would become ill again.

I went to my pediatrician's office and after a series of tests, they said that I was just "stressed-out" and that I would return to normal soon.

(As I write this article, four years later, I can attest that things would not be normal soon.)

I eventually was able to eat semi-regularly again, but I definitely was not the same. I began having problems eating a lot of foods that I had loved before. As a self-described carb-a-holic, I loved bread, crackers, and pretzels. I could no longer eat any of these.

But they weren't the only things I couldn't eat.

I had problems consuming apples, frosting, milk, burgers, pasta, chicken, soups, bagels, hoagies, pancakes, tea, and much more.

I needed help, however, I was discouraged after my pediatrician had blamed my problems on stress and said: "it's all in her head."

I continued living my life in fear of how my body would react to food. My symptoms were sometimes consistent, but other times were completely unpredictable.

I began eating mostly gluten-free and carried various "upset-stomach pain medications" to help fix how I felt when I ate.

I continued living like this until this past May, the end of my freshman year of college.

I felt that my quality of life wasn't the same as my peers who didn't have to constantly worry about what they ate.

I made an appointment with an Allergist, who ran tests for various food allergies.

They came back negative.

Once again, I felt as if my problems and experiences weren't taken seriously. My allergist suggested that I may not have allergies, but food sensitivities and intolerances. I was diagnosed with gluten, shellfish and lactose intolerances. (Most allergies and intolerances are developed in a person's 20s and 30s.)

She also referred me to a Gastroenterologist who eventually diagnosed me with acid reflux and a chronic digestive disorder, as well as various food intolerances.

After years of waiting, I had finally had an answer from doctors who took my symptoms and more importantly me seriously.

So you may ask, "Why did you want to put all of this out on the internet for all to see?"

My experience is an example of the importance of advocation. Without advocating for my health and well-being, I'd still be living my life in fear of how my body would react to what I ate.

I now know what foods I can and can't eat, how to manage my pain and live a healthy lifestyle without hurting my body.

If you believe something is wrong with your body, advocate for yourself. Find someone who will believe you and actually listen to your concerns.

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