PSYCHOLOGIES No. 46
“Smile, gentlemen”: how to learn to see the good and whether it is necessary
“A gloomy day is brighter from a smile!” … “And you smile at the one who sits in the pond!” … The good old Soviet cartoons, on which more than one generation of Russians grew up, are not so naive as it turns out. And now the adult attitude towards the benevolence given to us by Baby Little Raccoon and other “cartoons” is picked up by the adult movie hero Munchausen – Yankovsky: “I understand what your trouble is, you are too serious. A smart face is not a sign of the mind, gentlemen. All the stupid things on earth are done with this very expression … Smile, gentlemen! Smile! ”
But real life is not a Disney tale or Soyuzmultfilm, it often throws us reasons for sadness, or even despondency. “My sister constantly tells me that I’m a whiner, I see everything in black,” said 36-year-old Natalya. – Yes, I notice how food and clothes are getting more expensive. It’s hard to have fun when this year I spent not 15, but 15 thousand to prepare my third-grader son by September 1. I see how our mother is aging, and this makes me sad. I understand that one day she will not be. And the sister says: here, rejoice that she is still alive. I would like to, but I can’t “see” the bad. ”
If we wait for the joy of special circumstances, there is a chance that we will never find them favorable enough. Smiling life is a conscious choice, Buddhist monk Thich Nyat Han believes. In the book “Be free where you are,” he advises “to value every moment of life, every minute, so that you can use them to gain firmness of spirit, peace in the soul and joy in the heart.” But it is important to remember that joy has many shades, and each of us experiences and displays it in our own way.
Two big differences
“We are all born with a certain temperament, emotional tone, for someone it is higher, for someone lower. In a sense, it is laid down genetically, ”explains the humanistic psychotherapist Alexei Stepanov. – Joy is one of the fundamental human feelings available to everyone. In the absence of pathologies, we are all capable of experiencing a full range of emotions. But rejoicing and being optimistic is not the same thing. These concepts are “from different beds”.
Joy is the emotional state at the moment. Optimism is a set of attitudes, beliefs that have been in effect for a long time, sometimes all my life. This is a cheerful attitude to what is happening as a whole, a sense of oneself in the world, including confidence in success in the future. Joy is the backdrop upon which these beliefs live. ”
You can laugh at a friend’s successful joke or smile while reading a book, but at the same time look at life as a whole through a smoked glass, like in the sun during an eclipse. And you can guess the breaking rays of the sun behind the black disk of the moon.
The ability to see the good, even if trials are encountered in the course of life, can be an attitude transmitted in the process of education
“My colleague lost his wife in a car accident two years ago. I’m even afraid to imagine what it is like, ”says 52-year-old Galina. – He is 33 years old, two months before the accident a daughter was born. He loved his wife very much, for all the holidays of our company they came together. We were afraid that he would give up. But he once said that Lena would have scolded him for despair. And that the daughter should receive as much love as she was supposed to when she was born.
I listen to him tell with a smile about the girl’s first steps, how he plays with her, how she looks like little Lena in photographs, and I feel such warmth from his stamina and wisdom! ”
The ability to see good, even if trials are encountered in life, can be an attitude transmitted in the process of upbringing, or maybe part of a cultural code. “When the akathists sing to the saints, you will not hear the words“ Be happy, have fun, laugh, do not lose heart! ”You will hear“ Rejoice! ” Thus, this state, even in culture, is designated as an important, basic, fundamental deep feeling, ”Alexey Stepanov draws our attention. Not without reason, those suffering from depression complain first of all that they stop feeling joy, and for many it is unbearable so much that they are ready to part with life. You can lose joy, but gain?
Alone and with others
There is such a popular recipe for the blues – go to the mirror and start smiling at yourself. And after some time we will feel a surge of strength. Why does this work?
“Smiling is by no means a formal recommendation. Deep psychophysiological mechanisms are behind it, ”says Alexey Stepanov. – Many are skeptical about the American smile as fake. I think it’s just natural. In culture, there is an attitude to smile, and it entails a change in the emotional state as a whole. Try the exercise: grab a pencil and grip it. Your lips will stretch involuntarily. This is a way to artificially create a smile. And then watch your feelings. ”
It is known that our emotional states are projected onto bodily dynamics, on how we behave, what kind of facial expressions we have, how we move. But the connection of the body and emotions works in the opposite direction. Starting to smile, we can consolidate and strengthen our positive experience by sharing it with others. It is not in vain that they say that shared sorrow becomes half as much, and shared joy – twice as much.
Do not neglect the smile – for the interlocutor this is a signal in communication that we are safe for contact
“The more truthful and harmonious our love, social and family relationships, the better we feel,” recalls conflict expert Dominika Picard. To support them, she advises following the harmony of the three components: exchange, recognition, and conformity. An exchange is to give and receive equally, whether it be time, compliments, courtesies or gifts. The recognition is to accept the other person as significantly different from us.
Finally, matching means choosing a communication strategy that is right for our senses at the moment – for example, not to give ambiguous or conflicting signals that can cause stress or provoke conflicts. And do not neglect the smile – for the interlocutor this is a signal in communication that we are safe for contact.
Reasonable optimism and useful pessimism
Any tendency to extremes, such as “I can do absolutely everything” or “I can’t influence anything at all,” says that we don’t distinguish what we can influence from what should simply be accepted, says a cognitive psychologist Marina Cold. But you can find a balance.
How inclined are we to analyze our own capabilities and abilities, do we take into account our past experience, how much do we really evaluate the current situation? Outside of such intellectual control, optimism turns into an illusory picture of the world and becomes simply dangerous – it can be called thoughtless optimism, leading to an irresponsible attitude to the situation.
Only an enlightened pessimist can be a true optimist, and there is no paradox in this. A pessimist, not trusting fantasies about the future, without building illusions, thinks over behaviors, looks for possible remedies, laying straws in advance. He soberly perceives what is happening, notices various details and facets of the event, and as a result, he has a clear vision of the situation.
But often some people think: “everything around me is complete chaos, everything happens uncontrollably, nothing depends on me, I can do nothing.” And they become pessimists. Others are confident: “no matter what happens, I can somehow influence, I will intervene and do what I can, and I already have such experience, I managed.” This is the real, reasonable optimism associated not with external factors, but with internal ones, with a personal position. Pessimism – as a critical view of things – helps us to carefully analyze circumstances and think through the consequences.
Let’s rely on empathy
And yet a too joyful person can scare us away, or at least cause distrust. “Concentrated joy interferes with empathy. At the peak of emotions, we are alienated from others, deaf to them, – Alexei Stepanov warns. “In this state, we do not quite adequately evaluate others, sometimes ascribing to everyone around us an excellent mood, although someone may be sad at this moment and our delight will not be appropriate for him.”
Maybe that’s why we don’t really trust those who always smile? We want the interlocutor to relate not only to his emotions, but also to take into account ours! The creator of the concept of non-violent communication, Marshall Rosenberg, recommends living in full empathy, capturing what the interlocutor feels and what he lives here and now, not with the help of his intellect, but with the help of intuition, receptivity. What does he feel? What does not dare to say? What confuses him in my behavior? What to do to make us feel psychologically comfortable?
“Such fraternal behavior requires us to abandon self-centeredness, our personal opinion and our goal, to enter the mental and emotional space of another without prejudice and fear,” says Rosenberg.
Is this a utopia? Perhaps, but we should abandon the patronizing attitude and edifying tone, at least from time to time. And often sincerely smile at another.
She helps us take the first step to happiness. Especially for Psychologies, the writer Mariam Petrosyan shared her sense of joy.
“Joy is universal and individual at the same time. There are moments that delight everyone, but there are those that only a few are happy about. From universal joys you can make a long, endless list. Although no matter how you stretch it, in childhood it is still longer …
Individual joy is always unpredictable, inexplicable. Flash – and a still image invisible to the rest of the world for me alone. There is a tangible joy if, for example, a hug is a flash of internal heat. You hold such joy in your hands, you feel it with your whole body, but it is impossible to remember it. A visual delight can be stored in memory and included in a personal collection of pictures, memories. Turn into an anchor.
An eight-year-old son, taking off on a trampoline and for a moment frozen, arms outstretched, against the sky. A gust of wind, suddenly tossing bright yellow leaves from the ground. Why exactly these pictures? It just so happened. Each has its own collection. Neither comprehend nor repeat the magic of such moments is impossible. It is easy to take the child to jump on a trampoline. It may even be more fun than last time. But the piercing moment of happiness will not happen again, time cannot be stopped. It remains only to hide that previous, piercing, away and store until it fades.
For me, only the joy of the sea is repeated. A moment when it first opens to the eye in all infinity, greenery, blue, sparkling, at any time of the day and in any weather. One can only wonder why you’ve been separated from him for so long, why you don’t live near what is capable of giving happiness by the very fact of your existence, realizing that a constant presence nearby would reduce this feeling to an everyday routine, and still not believing that such a thing is possible .
Closest to the sea is live music. He always gets through, manages to hurt, touch, delight, pull out something deeply hidden … But too fragile. It is enough for someone to cough nearby, and a miracle as it were.
And the most unpredictable joy is the joy of a happy day. When all is well in the morning. But over the years, such days are becoming increasingly rare. Because over time, the main condition for receiving joy – carefreeness completely disappears. But the older we are, the more expensive these moments. Precisely what are rare. This makes them especially unexpected and valuable. ”