You probably heard it too in your childhood: you have to say thank you when you get a treat, you have to count your blessings when you are complaining, and many more of those boring rules. That’s at least how I thought about it. I thought that it was about being polite on the surface, but that it didn’t have any deeper meaning. In the mean time I’ve learned that I was oh so wrong.
Years ago I found Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love” at Oslo airport, abandoned at the ladies bathroom. An airport stewardess told me to keep the book. Inspired by the advise of the Indonesian wise old man in the book, show didn’t seem so wise after all, I tried the smile-meditation myself. It’s about smiling with all your body, with your lips, your eyes, your heart, and even with your liver and your kidney’s.
Somehow it’s easy to smile when inhaling some air, but doesn’t seem to work when exhaling. And one night, when I was sleepless in bed for worrying too much, I was smiling with all my body every time I inhaled, and thankful every time I exhaled. It’s a quick change, so I started to breath more slowly, which already helped to relax and to worry less. And this was the last I remembered before I fell asleep.
I now try to use it as ‘trick’ every time I’m sleepless. Sometimes I forget, and sometimes it doesn’t work that quickly. Though it always feels good to remember all the great things in my life, and to feel really grateful for it. This is may way of counting my blessings. It’s also a way of taking leadership, even when I should be sleeping. Maybe I should try it at daytime too, like 25 years ago on the street in Frankfurt …
(photo: Georg Stoll)