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Brain Rewiring: Salt, Pepper, and a Smile

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Disclaimer: I am not a brain or brain rewiring expert. I am simply sharing my personal journey and my personal understanding as it makes sense to me.

Smiles: The Best Seasoning of All

The eggs I make myself for breakfast always taste better with a little salt and pepper. A little oil in the skillet. A couple eggs. A sprinkle of salt. A shake of pepper. And when I look up and see my reflection in the microwave door above my cooktop, I remind myself to add that other important ingredient: a smile.

Smiles send powerful messages to the brain. They don’t have to be genuine. Just pull up the corners of your mouth and smile. You can do it.

I am so grateful for this brain rewiring journey. It is helping me see the impact of the little things.  And it is helping me see (or should I say, feel) the impact of a smile. 

That's Just How You Are, Debbie

I’ve been cognizant of the fact that I haven’t been smiling much these past several weeks. In the past, I’d remind myself that this is my habit this time of the year. “This is how I am,” I’d tell myself.

But is that really how I am? Is this really how I have to be?

There are times of the year. There are situations. There are circumstances that have me falling into certain patterns. Those neural pathways that have been so well established over the years love to remind me: ‘This is how you are when _____________.’ (fill in the blank)

And this right here is one of the many blessings of this brain rewiring journey.

A Shift in Direction

This journey is helping me to see the special person that I am— because, honestly, isn’t each and every one of us special? Yes, you. I’m speaking to you, and you, and you. You are special.

Each and every one of us special beings deserves health and wellness, and simply—joy. The thing is, for me, this ‘joy’ has often been dependent on external factors. And it would be diminished by my personal inner dialogue. 

My self-talk would include:

  • I can relax in January.
  • I can’t wait for, ______(this) or ______(that).
  • I wish I was ________.
  • I’m not enough.
  • I don’t do enough.
  • I wish I had _______.
You’ve got the idea. And chances are, you can probably relate. 

A Simple Smile: A Powerful Brain Rewiring Tool

I chose brain rewiring for one particular thing. I didn’t realize that what I was going to gain, however, would be so much more. I didn’t realize that this journey would include a growing toolbox that would show me that there is this person inside that can relax more, smile more, and enjoy life more.

And the tools that I use shift the reliance from external factors to internal factors.

One of my favorite tools in my personal toolbox is a smile. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always automatic. But it is powerful.

So I remind myself. Gently. Kindly. ‘Smile, Debbie.’ 

When I wake up in the morning and my brain wants to return to old habits, I remind myself: ‘Smile, Debbie.’

When I’m cooking in the kitchen and I see my reflection in the microwave door, I remind myself:  ‘Smile, Debbie.’

When I think of this or that on my little ‘to-do’ list, I remind myself: ‘Smile, Debbie.’

It may seem so simple, but it can truly be so powerful.

Smiles Work: It's in the Science

A smile isn’t just a smile. It changes our brain’s chemistry by releasing happy hormones.

From NBC News article, “Smiling Can Trick Your Brain into Happiness and Boost Your Health“: “A smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin.” Serotonin reduces stress. Dopamine increases feelings of happiness. 

I don’t know about you, but just knowing this brings a smile to my face and encourages my desire to smile more often. 

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