Waking Up This Morning I Smile – April 19 2020

Waking Up This Morning I Smile – April 19 2020

Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

Thich Nhat Hanh

 

In these few words, Thich Nhat Hanh offers three suggestions for improving our quality of life.

 

The first is simply to smile. Studies show that smiling may actually lead to the experience of more happiness. A 1989 study by psychologist Robert Zajonc suggests that brain chemistry actually is changed by the muscle movement involved in smiling.

 

As well, we find that by greeting others with a smile, we are much more likely to receive a smile in return. Positive reinforcement from our fellows raises our self-esteem, which causes us to smile more, which will tend to cause others to smile more, etc. So simple, yet quite powerful. Just to think of the smile of a friend as I sit here causes a smiling response in me.

 

To pass joy on to others is no small thing.

 

Secondly, Thich Nhat Hanh vows to live fully in each moment – to practice mindfulness. To be present to the world, rather than lost in the endless speculation of the mind – regretting the past or worrying about the future. Speculation leads only to suffering. To be present fully in the moment opens us to an experience of joy.

 

Two actions, relatively easy to take, that when practiced lead us toward an experience of happiness.

 

And third, an action that will keep us from moving away from happiness, Nhat Hanh vows to ‘look at all beings with eyes of compassion.’ How is this to be accomplished? We are given a clue by the way he phrases this, that he will use the eyes of compassion, that the compassion lives within me, in my view of the world, rather than in the world itself; that I must find the way to accept others for exactly who and what they are. Everyone always is doing their best at every given moment. Someone’s ‘best’ may not be up to our own standards, but my negative judgment will not do anything to improve the situation. What will help is for me to remember that all of us are evolving expressions of the Divine, and it is not for me to judge the place of anyone in their own evolutionary journey. 

 

When we can accept this, we can let go of our resentments. We can stop taking things so personally. We can let others off the hook. And when we let others off the hook, we can begin to let ourselves off the hook as well.

 

Though we may not always be able to accomplish this, even making the attempt makes us more available to a life of joy.

 

Each day, we commit to expanding our way of being, of seeing the world, of seeing ourselves in the world, so that each day we grow closer to who and what we are meant to be: beautiful, full and free expressions of the Divine. This is our birthright. This is the work of our lives. It’s not too much to ask for.

 

Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

Bud Powell, LA River Wash, Studio City CA