The idea of creating happiness can sound absurd when you’re facing hardship. Sometimes, life makes people want to stop, turn around, and retreat to bed indefinitely. This can make a whole lot of sense, because life can be incredibly stressful. A burdensome struggle, even. No one is exempt from times of hardship. Further, sometimes people deal with extra challenges such as mental illness, abuse, trauma, loss, and more. How do you—how does anyone—keep from retreating? How do you smile and even find happiness in the face of strife?
It Starts with a Smile
Smiling is a small action that can have a big impact on your physical and mental health. Smiling can boost mood and lower stress. Smiling with another person can increase your connection and strengthen a relationship. Smiling initiates changes in the brain that ripple through the body.
The jury is still out on whether faking a smile does good, causes harm, or does nothing. So far, different research studies indicate all three. Let’s assume that you don’t want to fake it, that you want to want to smile. You just don’t feel like you can.
This is precisely the time to empower yourself to act. You can make positive change in the face of even gigantic stressors, and it starts with the courage to smile. It’s the courage to look around you, even going places despite severe anxiety, and find reasons to smile.
Finding even just one reason to smile (a squirrel darting across a fence, perhaps, or an enjoyable chapter in a book you’re reading) is a strong start to the journey to find happiness in the face of adversity. This is because you are making the choice to do it. It is your choice, and you are finding things that make you smile.
How to Create Happiness Amidst Mental Illness, Trauma, Abuse, Loss, and Stress
Regaining control over your situation by looking for a reason to smile is one step in improving your mental health and, slowly but surely, step by step, creating happiness. There are many things you can do. The infographic presents five that involve turning inward to get to know yourself. Sometimes, people get lost among the fray of external situations and other people. Exploring who you are and what you have to offer (and where you want to offer it) guides you on your journey to life satisfaction.
What Lies Behind Silent Smiles?
In the novel Behind Silent Smiles, Cătălina Grigorescu knows pain and suffering. Her life has been difficult from early childhood in the Romanian countryside to the streets of Bucharest to Sacramento California. She has known:
- Abuse emotional and physical
Her beloved Bunicuță, or grandmother, meant well when she taught her,
Smile and act like it didn’t bother you. That’s how you should handle everyone when they do hurtful things.”
Cătălina—Catie when she moves to the United States—experiences depression, anxiety, and physical pain. How does she keep going when sometimes she just wants to stop, turn around, and retreat into bed indefinitely?
The five things to do to create happiness despite hardship are already present in her life. Now she must understand, accept, and act on them. That’s the difficult part, but it truly is possible to uncover what is beneath silent smiles.