Take a walk in any big city. Walk like a boss–and listen to the catcalls rain down upon your head. Mmm, baby! Gimme some of that! The more confident your walk, the more demanding the comments. Smile, honey! Why don’t you smile? Something about a confident woman inspires endless commentary. An appreciative glance is always nice, but who likes to be the object of unwanted attention? No one.
Still, the catcallers have a point. Smiling is magic. Especially when we smile for ourselves. A smile lifts mood, melts stress, and ripples outward to lift up those around us. It is part of the secret sauce of self-love that brings us confidence and joy. And one great place to smile is in the mirror. That’s right–smile at yourself!
I learned this from Bobby Farrah. It took me a looong time to understand its value–and longer to put it into practice. Bobby gazed at himself lovingly in the mirror. I mean, yeah, he looked at us to correct us, too–but when he looked at himself, as he did going across the floor and at many other moments, he damn near simpered. It was pretty interesting. Now I see (as I do with so much of Bobby’s material), how advanced and amazing his models were.
Think about it. Most of the time when we look at ourselves in the mirror–particularly doing practice–what do we do? We squint accusingly. We watch ourselves like hawks for any mistake, deviation, or flaw. And then we berate ourselves for them. We are always looking at ourselves with mean, narrow eyes. And we all know that what we do in practice, we do in performance. So those mean eyes go out into the world with us. We frown in concentration when we dance. At our guests. At our friends. Yikes!
So what can we do?
Smile! Now, when I practice, I don’t look at myself for flaws–I beam at myself! I give myself flirtatious glances! I laugh with myself! I treat myself like a loving friend and share joy with my reflection in the mirror. And you know what? It works. It’s far easier to express joy when I practice it every day. My dance is more confident. My affect is more welcoming. My practice is much more fun. And the warm feeling I get lasts into my day.
Try it! When you look in a mirror, give yourself a flirty wink. When you dance in front of a mirror, focus on flirting and laughing with yourself. Twinkle your joy at every opportunity. It may be hard at first, but persevere. True learning is uncomfortable. But gaining joy is well-worth the effort.
It’s okay to love yourself. You won’t turn into a narcissist, and you won’t suddenly become a schlub, either. It’s okay to feel good. It’s okay to smile. Maybe not for catcallers, but certainly for yourself and your friends. We could all use a dose of confidence. We could all use some more fun. And we could all use joy. Let’s make it a habit to give that to ourselves.
Breath helps bring the joy. Breath has become such an integral part of my dance, I can’t imagine going back to the way I was. Last call for the early access to The Road to Joy: Step 1, Breath. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do.
Fake smiles good and bad
How to Trick your mind for Happiness
PS We have some friends who could use some love.
PS In the 2012 and 2013 90 Days, Dawn Schmidt Ventimiglia gifted us with buckets of love, insight, and great improv prompts. Dawn’s beloved husband is surgery bound. If you’ve been wishing for some of Dawn’s wonderful painted bowls, glamping lamps or other bright, whimsical creations, now is a very helpful time to buy. https://www.etsy.com/shop/EclecticDawnArts
PPS Someone unlocked my cage, so I will be running around loose much of the summer. It’s not all set yet, but it looks like I will be in
- Palo Alto/Bay Area in early June,
- Santa Barbara in mid June,
- New Orleans in late June for Tamalyn’s weeklong (one spot left, btw),
- Anchorage AK in early July,
- Seattle area in mid July, and
- New Mexico in mid August for Dunya’s Summer Movement Monastery
If you might be around, please hit me up. I’m available for parties, coffee breaks, workshops, and private lessons.
Lots and LOTS of love!