Ever tried waking up with a smile? The other day I was reminded of a short video clip I saw with the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. In the clip he is recommending people to wake up with a smile. His words have stayed with me and now I follow his advice. Because it is super effective and works in our favour! Here’s why:

Most of us wake up in the morning and automatically think about our worries and problems. We think about what is not going well in our life, what we have to do to get things sorted, and so on. This is probably the opposite of how you woke up when you were little? Most likely, at that time, you woke up feeling curious and excited about what the day was going to bring.

I have noticed the early morning problem thoughts myself. I wake up and thoughts enter my mind. Suddenly I find myself analysing and fixing things that I have been or am worried about. Before the day has even started! Now back to the smile. As I have become conscious of the worrying thoughts it is all about remembering to smile first thing. I let the thoughts be and focus on smiling and how it makes me feel. It changes everything. Seriousness is gone. Suddenly I am here, in this moment, feeling grateful for my bed, for what I see outside my window, for knowing my dog is waiting for me to go out, for feeling the aliveness within me. I am smiling and I know I have a good reason to smile. I see that everything is fine and that there is a new day in front of me.

I have tried it out at other times of the day and it is as effective then. A couple of examples:

  • I am carrying groceries home and the bags are heavy and it is very hot and I go into this internal complaining – and then I notice my thoughts and switch to a smile. Suddenly, as if by magic, I see how lucky I am to have all these products in my bags, that my body feels good carrying the bags, and how lucky that I have already been to the shops so now it is done.
  • I am swimming in the sea and notice there are dark patches on the sea floor and thoughts go to jellyfish that might be around that I have no chance of spotting. The moment doesn’t feel enjoyable as I have gone into fear – with my totally imaginary thoughts! Luckily there is an easy way out. As soon as I become aware of my thoughts I know I can choose what to do next. Yes, I choose to smile. The smile brings me straight into the delicious feeling of the water around me, the feeling of the sun shining on my face, and oh, wow, how amazing it is that I get to swim right now.

A smile has its value, but this is more than simply about a smile. It is actually about using the smile to access the present moment. The smile becomes like a guide that helps me see that I am here. I am alive and I am breathing. I can be grateful for this moment! I don’t know what is going to happen next but I feel good where I am right now.

Thoughts are thoughts and not facts, and we are experts at making stories out of thoughts. The incredible thing is that as soon as you become aware of your thoughts you are aware! From there, you can choose where to place your attention. Perhaps on the feeling of a smile? 🙂

I hope this has inspired you to wake up with a smile tomorrow morning. I wish you a beautiful day,

Annette X

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Annette Wiik

My name is Annette. I am a Yoga Academy Certified Teacher (BWY-Accredited School) and started practising Hatha Yoga over 20 years ago. Holding a certificate from Bangor University to teach mindfulness-based courses, I incorporate my knowledge of mindfulness meditation in all my yoga classes. I have two grown-up children.