Why You Need to CTFD and Smile More

Why You Need to CTFD and Smile More

Smiling is Seriously Good For You
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Mindfulness gurus are out there telling folks to practice a hackneyed version of Lamaze breathing, but all that hoo-hoo-hee turns into “help me” when your lungs feel like they’re going to burst out of your rib cage like the Kool-Aid Man. It’s hard to breathe mindfully when the world is out to get you, and your negative brain isn’t any help — stupid negative self-talk hamster on the stupid rat race wheel.

Everybody needs to CTFD and smile more because smiling rewires your brain into more positive patterns. If you end up smiling creepily at a creeper and they run away scared, it’s a win-win situation.

It’s annoying when some stranger tells you to smile, especially men telling women, but there’s a positive science to smiling. You don’t owe anyone a smile but yourself, and when you smile, you make the world a better place.

Your brain logs the activity when you smile, and the more your lips turn upward, the more your brain effectively shuts down negative thought patterns and generates more positive patterns. Smiling more opens up small worldviews to see more positive possibilities and calms you the eff down.

Smiling Boosts the Immune System

Psychoneuroimmunology studies the connection between the brain and immune system. Depression adversely affects the immune system, but your immunity boosts when you smile. Dopamine, the happiness hormone, releases when you smile because the body reacts to the assumption that you’re laughing. One study found that those who had Botox injections, and consequently couldn’t frown, felt happier.

Even if you fake-smile it until you make it to happiness, it doesn’t matter to your brain — it’s too busy generating dopamine. So, when you’re feeling down in the dumps, whether you’re sad or sick, turn up the corner of your lips and let the magic happen.

The World Smiles, Too, When You Do Mouth Yoga

If you stop to think about it, smiling is really mouth yoga. You use between five to 53 muscles when you smile, depending on how wide that grin is. Science has yet to prove the adage that “the world smiles with you,” but mirroring is a social adaptation and survival skill that all humans participate in. When someone smiles at you genuinely, why wouldn’t you smile back?

There are many positive benefits to smiling as you go about your day. When you notice yourself feeling the positive energy, pause to appreciate the moment and maximize the benefits of soaking it in by smiling. You can’t help but grin when you see a little kid giggling and splashing in a puddle after a thunderstorm. Let that be you, and watch the world smile, too, as you spread cheer and smile in the face of jerks.

Smile When Toxic Pond Scum Stresses You Out

There’s only so much you can put with — and should put up with — but sometimes, you can’t cut jerks completely out of your life. So, what do you do when constantly confronted with their toxic pond scum BS?

Older folks tell you to smile as pretty as you please and “grin and bear it.” There’s something to that tactic.

When toxic pond scum stresses you out, CTFD by turning those lips skyward. One study instructed half of the participants to attempt a standard, neutral smile by trying to turn up their lips with chopsticks in their mouths to engage the necessary muscles without forcing it too much.

The other half weren’t told to smile, but their lips still made a smiling shape due to the chopsticks. All participants completed various multi-tasking activities during analysis. Smiling influences physical states as those who weren’t told to smile still experienced positive effects from the study, such as a lowered heart rate. Smiling affects one’s ability to recover from stress in tense situations and reduce the intense activity of stress hormones as they release from the body in these situations.

Smile to Live Longer and Thrive Socially

What’s the elixir of life? Smiling.

Those who smile more live longer and experience more satisfying relationships. Researchers gathered Facebook profile photos of college freshmen who smiled naturally and those who didn’t in their photos and found participants who smiled reported higher life satisfaction 3.5 years later during follow up. More students who smiled in their yearbook photos also reported higher life satisfaction during follow up at ages 27, 43 and 52.

When you smile, you let go of your mental, emotional and physical rigidness — your cells let go of their rigidity. The world smiles, too, in theory.

Meanwhile, toxic pond scum remains toxic pond scum, but you don’t wade knee deep in the polluted BS. When you smile, it’s like Gollum retreating to his caves to escape the glory of the sun. Leave the creepers and jerks to nurture their toxic “Precious.” CTFD, leave the field of fucks barren and smile more today.
Cover Image Credit: Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Being Skinny Isn’t As Great As You Think

A reflection on the struggles that come with a person's body image.

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Body image. It is one of the most powerful and harmful things on a person's self-esteem. Society and media have placed so many images of what we "should" look like. How we need to be eating, exercising, dressing, EVERYTHING. According to others, we always need to change ourselves or second guess how we see our bodies.

For as long as I can remember everyone has called me "tiny". Sure, being small and being able to fit into a lot of clothes is fun, but being tiny or thin isn't always a good thing. I am your typical college kid eating whatever I want whenever I want.

The only difference between myself and other students is that I almost never gain weight. Some girls or guys may read that part and think that I have a gift or blessing. That I can do whatever I want and still stay small and "pretty".

Have you ever finished a meal then looked at yourself and felt like something wasn't right? Some people in today's world and in history will spend time looking at themselves and seeing multiple things that are wrong with their body.

Some handled that by exercising and losing weight or gaining muscle, others have gone as far as throwing up their food or taking pills that force their bodies not to gain ANY weight. Hearing about that from adults or doctors seems crazy but people do it all the time. Possibly the people around you and you would never know.

I went to middle school with a girl that always finished her lunch walking to the trash and then taking herself to the bathroom. She wouldn't come back to our table until the lunch bell rang. Most people didn't give a second thought to this situation, me however, I followed her one day. What I saw next was something I wasn't prepared for as a 7th grader.

Two sinks, a mirror, and three stalls. One was occupied and the rest were empty. I walked into crying and nothing else. The girl had already taken care of her food and was trying to gather herself after what she just did.

People told her that she was gaining weight, that she was "chunky" or fat. She wasn't the only girl around that dealt with horrible comments like that. It's also not just girls dealing with issues like this.

Boys and men are constantly judged and only "ideal" if they are muscular. Young boys are called pigs or disgusting only because of their weight and looking bigger than the "average" person. Men are downgraded to a lesser meaning when they are thin and "stick like".

Even as we grow up kids and sometimes adults say things without realizing the effect. Being called tiny or skinny all of the time can make someone just feel small. Getting comments to eat a hamburger and fries can make someone feel insulted.

Having comments made about your skin or hair and people making assumptions about you can make someone feel misunderstood or judged. Being told that you need to eat more or go tanning because your body doesn't "look right" can torture a person.

There are so many things that play into a person's self-esteem. Average size, too small or too big is simply just words coming out of someone's mouth that don't understand the true beauties in life.

Do you ever look at a big oak tree and say, "You're too fat, you should really lose some weight."

Do you ever see a flower that blooms smaller than a quarter and tells it, "You are tiny! Why don't you go eat a burrito or something?"

No. You probably don't. Just replace the oak tree with mom and see how that feels coming out of your mouth. Replace flower with a teenage girl and see if you can actually say all of those things. Imagine if you were a parent and it was your little girl or boy that you were talking to and you said those words. Would you be happy with yourself? Would you feel guilty? Would you push them to make their body unhealthy just to fit society's standards?

I hope that you wouldn't

There are so many of us out there being told what to do with ourselves in order to be happy with our bodies. How can someone else determine our happiness for us? I have personally gotten to the point of breaking.

I see friends on a daily basis that want to change their body because it's "ugly". Many of those thoughts are because of things society has put in our minds, and not what truly matters.

As a society, we need to push towards total acceptance. Now, I am not meaning the sexuality or ethnicity type of acceptance because those are important on a different level. Respecting each other and our bodies are something that needs to be understood and enforced as much as sexuality acceptance is pushed.

I want to live in a world and raise children in a world that doesn't make people feel horrible about their bodies. It is THEIR body, not ours. The only body we should be worrying about is our own. I want my future daughter to grow and love playing dress up without wondering if her body looks right in what she's wearing. I want my future son to go to gym class and be able to do only one pull up with all of the other boys cheering him on to do better.

Is that too much to ask?

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