A morning smile
I'm a grumpy person in the mornings. I've trained myself to be a “morning person”, but it does not come naturally for me. At night, I feel great, even If I'm really tired—my wife, exactly the other way around.
She complained about waking up every day with a grumpy person — not a great way to start. I understood, rationally. At the same time, I felt there was nothing I could do about it; it is not like I wanted to be a grumpy person, I just could not avoid it.
One day, she asked me: “as soon as you're awake, smile, at least smile when you look at me”.
Okay, that sounds doable, it was an actionable and specific request, nothing compared to “stop being grumpy”. Furthermore, she said: “look at children; any child wakes up with a big smile on her face”. She was right. Children are happy and energized after sleeping (probably way too happy and way too energized for the misfortune of the parents).
So I did it.
And eventually, my mornings were different.
I cannot say I'm not grumpy anymore. But that trivial change made me feel better, and apparently, that was more than enough to please my wife as well.
I don't believe in “positive thinking”, or “visualization”, or any of the recipes offered by the wellness industry. But I do think there is a body-mind interrelation, that is, that my body affects my thoughts and feelings, and the other way around.
Detailed knowledge about the body-mind is part of canonical Buddhist teachings — developed more than 2,500 years ago. Recently, there has been copious scientific research in this area as well. But above all, it is something anyone can experience. When you have anxious thoughts, you can feel them in your body as well. You can also notice that your mind is clearer after a workout session. You don't need to (and should not) blindly believe in Buddhism or Science. Get a first-hand experience!
A second observation is on the importance of being actionable and specific with our requests. When my wife complained about my grumpiness, I got stuck. It was not that I did not care; I did not know how to change that — or if it was even possible. It was a great move of her to change that to “smile as soon as you wake up”. Okay, that I could do. It was fake at first, but you know what they say: “fake it 'till you make it”.