Tiny Wisdom: On the Power of a Smile

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Last weekend, I had a difficult day. My brother had just flown 3,000 miles across the country after visiting me, which reignited an internal conflict about living so far from my family.

I always feel a familiar emptiness when I deal with that conflict. It’s my instinctive resistance to the undeniable truth that everything in life is a trade off. I can’t simultaneously follow my instinct to be in LA and my instinct to be near my family. Each choice entails sacrifice, and I struggle with that sometimes.

I didn’t leave my apartment that day. I burrowed under the covers, feeling down and helpless, waiting for something outside me to change my state of mind. Eventually, it did change. And it was something external.

I decided to take a five-minute walk just to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. At the end of my street, I saw what looked like a million purple leaves from a Jacaranda tree, sprinkled all over the sidewalk.

Scattered so colorfully and delicately, they looked like pure bliss–like a spa that sprung up through the cement to soothe me right when I needed it. So I smiled, just a little, and then slowly, a little more, until I realized I was somewhere I hadn’t been all day: firmly planted in the present moment, grateful for how beautiful it was.

It didn’t change that there are things I struggle with. We’ll always have challenges in life. But sometimes the best thing we can do when we get caught up in our heads is make a conscious choice to get outside of it. If we want to know joy, we must first be willing to smile.

Photo by cheekycrows3

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She started the site after struggling with depression, bulimia, c-PTSD, and toxic shame so she could recycle her former pain into something useful and inspire others do the same. She recently created the Breaking Barriers to Self-Care eCourse to help people overcome internal blocks to meeting their needs—so they can feel their best, be their best, and live their best possible life. If you’re ready to start thriving instead of merely surviving, you can learn more and get instant access here.

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