Have you ever had a day where so many things went wrong that at some point, all you could do was crack a smile? Of course you have. Why did you do that? Because you have probably learned that you can intercept your negative thoughts and tamp those fiery emotions down by slapping a pleasant expression on your face. That seems crazy, I know, but it’s true.

We all accept that our mind can influence our body, like how the mere thought of something scary can make your heart race. Well, then it’s not such a leap to understand that the reverse can also be true. Sitting up straight, leaning in, striking a power pose, all can make you feel more confident and in a power position, when you didn’t start out feeling that way. But there’s another tactic that really works, and I do it all the time. The old Smile and Nod. Smiling in the face of frustration. 

It works for a couple of reasons. But before we get into that, I want to say that I am not in my 20’s or 30’s. I’m a little older than that, so it’s possible that this may be something that gets easier with age. It did for me.

Remember when we were young, and we did something bad then one of our parents stared into our eyeballs and read us the riot act? Well, do you also remember that if you stared back at them silently with a really weird look on your face, sometimes your parent “broke character” and erupted into laughter? The air was let out of that whole situation, much to their disappointment. It’s like that. You can go from 100 to 0 with a smile or a laugh. 

That’s A Good One, Universe.

It’s Like The Idea Of Fake It ‘til You Make It, Only Better

If you are tense or frustrated when you’re in a room full of coworkers, family, or in a social situation, you generally try to fake your way out of it, by bottling it up and forcing a smile. Probably because throwing a baby fit would be socially unacceptable. But pretty soon it works. It has become such a habit for me now that I start to crack a smile just as I start to see things really going off the rails. It calms the eruption of emotion that would have inevitably ensued. 

It Helps Everyone Around You

In the example of your parent scolding you and then breaking out in laughter, that reframes the mindset of the parent. But it also creates a giant emotional sigh of relief for the kid. When one person in a group is tense or frustrated, everyone else around absorbs that. It’s almost impossible not to. It’s palpable to all and conjures up a mental eye roll and the refrain “here we go again. Eventually, no one wants to be around that person, so it’s best to just turn the corners of that mouth up and buck up. Your mood shouldn’t become a buzzkill for everyone else.

Everything To Lose and Nothing To Gain

At the end of the day, why not just dial it down a little? Frustration just snowballs, grabs up every other little annoyance on its way down, and turns into a giant garbage heap that ruins the day. Not just for you, but for everyone around you. Do you really want to be that person? I don’t.

Lord knows there are things that are going to frustrate us everyday, and it happens to the best of us. Even those among that seem to have it all figured out and are living the easy life. (They’re not real by the way). But if you are a self described master adapter, like me, you eventually realize that what is happening is actually happening and can’t un-happen, shocker, so rolling with the punches needs to be the name of your game. 

You are the only one that can actually control your mood, and even though we often convince ourselves otherwise, to justify our helplessness I suppose, it’s on you. So get a grip on that facial expression, nod at the universe for giving you yet another strength building exercise, and say to yourself, “that’s a good one, you almost got me.”