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Smile! (JB)

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Júlíana Björnsdóttir's picture

Yesterday, I reluctantly dragged myself to do the long run of the week, the longest I’ve done in almost two months.

As much as I love to run, there are always days when both mind and body are reluctant to obey the call of duty. Inside, I protested as I shut the door behind me and pressed Select on my Runkeeper app to start the run of the day.

I was not in the least excited about running 16.1 km (10 miles) and reasoned with myself that it was okay to just do the 8 km run (5 miles) or the 11 km (7 miles) run I was scheduled to do earlier in the week instead.

But the one thing that turned it all around was the second encounter with an unorthodox runner who brightened up my day with a smile.

Dressed in casual everyday clothes, the tall and slender smiling man unburdened the dread of finishing the long run of the day. And all it took was a happy smile from a stranger. After that, I decided to embrace the 16.1 km run and enjoy it in the fine autumn weather (and let’s keep in mind that it’s November in Iceland and we haven’t even seen snow in the capital yet).

It got me thinking about smiling in general. I know that I don’t smile nearly as much as I should. The predictable Icelandic “frown” as I sometime refer to the look on our face at times, plants itself on my face far too often.

This frown of which I speak is not an angry frown, just a non-smile that implies a blend reaction to what is happening around us.

In the film Love Happens, the protagonist meditates every day for five minutes (if memory serves me right) with a smile on his face.

Personally, I think the philosophy behind meditating with a smile on one’s face is probably more effective than we realize. Yesterday’s experience was living proof of that.

It is not unlikely, and in particular during winter, that you may see that non-smile look on the faces of Icelanders walking down the street under gray skies on a windy day.

It’s not that we are unhappy or miserable, well, apart from possibly being fed up with the cold; it’s a cultural trait, a defense mechanism to not let the wintry ways get the better of us.

But the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that there is a better way to defeat the wintry ways, the gloom and the cold that makes us want to nest comfortably at home when not at work or running errands.

Anyone who has experienced winter in Iceland knows it can be quite gloomy after a while. The hours of daylight grow fewer with each winter month and the cold air combined with strong winds becomes exhausting for the mind and body.

After last winter, many Icelanders were more than fed up with winter, and the frown on our faces was no doubt on the sour side as spring procrastinated its arrival.

So now, as the gloomy season begins once more with the underlying fear of yet another stormy winter, it is perhaps better to face it with a smile rather than an impersonal frown that does nothing to brighten up our day or anyone else’s.

So in the theory of the smile philosophy, the colder it gets, the wider the happy smile on my face should be in defiance of the cold winter months.

Perhaps all we need is a smile on our face to make the gloomy season a happier time.

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir@gmail.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.