In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), we have a practice called “half-smile.” When you are feeling down, sad, or depressed, you simply make the effort of a half smile.  It’s important not to overdo it, so that it’s not super fake or phony. Just a gentle, simple, half-smile.

The science behind it is that not only do our emotions cause us to make certain facial expressions, but making facial expressions also causes us to feel emotions.  When we half-smile, we are sending a message to the brain that something has made us happy, and we feel good. The brain acts in turn, and we end up feeling a bit better.

Here are some examples of half smiles. Study them closely before reading on. Try to replicate them.:

Image Credit

Image Credit

Today at work, I decided to take the “half-smile” a step further.  I used opposite action.

I felt a bit down, and the action behavior that tends to go with that is withdrawing.  I decided to be “half-joyful.” I smiled at others. I engaged in conversation even when I didn’t really feel like it — not in a fake way…it was genuine, because in my heart, I do want to connect with others. I want to engage in conversations, be liked, and have something to offer.

Just as half-smiling can feel awkward at first, so did being half-joyful, but, I have to tell you: it worked.  There was something about pushing myself to be kinder, to smile more, and to listen to what others had to say, that helped me to also have a more rewarding and happy day.

There’s something to this stuff.

Thank you for reading.
More soon.

PS… I enjoyed this video made my our young peer, Hannah, on her understanding of the Half Smile skill and how it’s helped her:

8 replies
  1. Andy xxx
    Andy xxx says:

    THank you so much for reminding me to half smile when I feel upset. I am going through quite a difficult time right now and find your blog so uplifting. Thank you

    Reply
  2. Andy xxx
    Andy xxx says:

    THank you so much for reminding me to half smile when I feel upset. I am going through quite a difficult time right now and find your blog so uplifting. Thank you

    Reply
  3. HealingFromBPD
    HealingFromBPD says:

    HUGE hugs to you, Andy. So glad you find some comfort here. ((((Andy)))). Keep half smiling, and a full one will come soon. :))

    Reply
  4. HealingFromBPD
    HealingFromBPD says:

    HUGE hugs to you, Andy. So glad you find some comfort here. ((((Andy)))). Keep half smiling, and a full one will come soon. :))

    Reply
  5. HealingFromBPD
    HealingFromBPD says:

    You are very welcome. Please let him know that it is not a life sentence. He can and WILL get better…it's hard work, but DBT really works!!!

    Reply
  6. HealingFromBPD
    HealingFromBPD says:

    You are very welcome. Please let him know that it is not a life sentence. He can and WILL get better…it's hard work, but DBT really works!!!

    Reply

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