Connecting Women in Recovery
Mona Lisa Smile

Today is Election Day and this has been a very stressful election for many. According to the American Psychological Society, 52% of Americans are experiencing some sort of election related stress.

If you are feeling stressed, angry, fearful or any other negative emotion, there is a quick, easy technique you can use to turn that frown upside down (literally). It’s called “Half-smile.” It’s also sometimes refers to as the Buddha smile or Mona Lisa smile.

How it Works

Begin to smile with your lips, but stop just when you notice a small amount of tension at the corners of your mouth. If someone were watching you, he/she probably wouldn’t notice any change in your face. It’s a subtle, tiny smile. (If you try to keep up a big toothy grin for ten minutes, nothing will happen other than your face will start to hurt.)

An example of the Mona Lisa smile

Keep it Going

Now wear this for ten minutes without stopping, and notice how your mood has shifted. Most people report a significant uptick in their overall mood. If you don’t notice any significant change, some people find it helpful, in addition to the half-smile, to “smile with their eyes.”

Why it Works

The way this works is the bi-directional nature of behavior and emotions. Most of the time, when we experience a positive emotion, such as joy, we smile as a consequence of the joy.

But what the most current cognitive-behavioral research has shown time and again, is that it works the other way too. Smile for a few minutes and you feel happy. Furrow your brow and you experience anger. Breathe short, shallow breaths, and you can induce panic. Basically, engage in the behavior and the emotion will follow (aka fake it ’til you make it).

Share your results below. Did this work for you?

Peace, Love, & Sobriety,

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One Response to Turn That Frown Upside Down (Literally)

  • This half-smile works for me – I’ve been doing it for years! I have shared it with some others. I thought of it as a private smile, coming from inside, from my place of Peace. When I brought it forth, my consternation went away. A big public smile was not what I needed. I needed a small private smile to help me inside. Thank you for sharing this. All I knew was that it works. Now I know there is a biological/physiological reason it works. No matter. It just works 🙂