Think for a moment about the wide variety of different types of smiles that a person might have in a day, a week, a month, a year. Sure, technically a smile is any small movement of a few facial muscles that allow the corners of the mouth to turn up. But the actual experience of a smile can range from a tiny forced hint of those upturned corners, all the way to a broad, toothy grin.
Humans smile in dozens, if not hundreds of different ways.
HERE ARE JUST A FEW
1. An obligatory smile, like when you smile at a joke that’s not funny just to be socially polite
2. A laughing smile, when you’re genuinely humored and can’t keep it inside
3. A shocked smile, such as when you’re greeted by a pleasant surprise
4. A wistful smile, that happens when remembering something or someone fondly
5. A proud smile, when you’ve accomplished something awesome
6. A sexy smile, as you flirt with a person you’re interested in
A smile, it turns out, is not just a smile. At any given time, you might find yourself smiling out of relief, gratitude, contentedness, a sense of mischief, a feeling of nostalgia, or as a result of many other feelings. Think about how you embody each of these different types smiles. Ask yourself what the smile looks like, where you feel it in the rest of your body, how you react to others when they smile in that way.
For example, a parent who sees their child beaming with pride might, in turn, feel provoked to beam right back. In an instant, the parent is connecting that moment with all the other moments leading up to now that allowed this experience of pride to happen. In the parent’s brain, their mirror neurons are firing and they can feel in their body something similar to the pride their child is feeling in their own body. Imagine what this smile looks like and feels like for this parent.
Now imagine someone reminiscing about a previous relationship. Even though they’re sad that they are no longer with this person, they still have fond memories of the two of them together, and they like to revisit those memories from time to time. Imagine what that smile looks like and feels like for this person.
These examples demonstrate two very different types of smiles, born of vastly different experiences and feelings that live deep within the person. Connecting to that depth of emotional wisdom is what joy is all about.