Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



good life with amy hackworth

Part of cultivating a good life is waking up with a smile.

In those first few minutes of consciousness, when my eyes are still closed and I’m just acknowledging that a new day is about to start, I lie in bed with a tiny smile while I think of a few things I’m grateful for.

First on the list is almost always my comfortable bed because I’m still in the midst of thoroughly enjoying it. A good bed—what a gift! And then I think about my husband and my boys, what I loved about the day before or what I’m looking forward to in the day ahead, friends, food, music, that I’ve been invited to guest post on Becky Higgins’ blog (!), my flower garden, books . . . really whatever comes to my mostly-conscious mind for the next couple of minutes.

I started this subtle, gentle jumpstart to my day a few years ago in an effort to curb a flow of negative thoughts that seemed to hijack my morning before I knew it. Recently, however, I came across legitimate scientific proof of the benefits of smiling.

In Amy Cuddy’s book Presence, she highlights a study that measured the effect of facial expressions on emotions (if you haven’t seen her TED talk on body language, you must!). Subjects were led to think the study was testing facial muscles, with electrodes hooked up to a complex machine that actually did nothing. The researcher then asked participants to contract certain facial muscles that led to smiles or to scowls. They then reported on their emotional state, and get this: smiling subjects reported feeling happy and scowlers reported feeling inexplicably angry.

Cuddy cites other studies that link a positive facial expression to the creation of a positive emotion. The simple act of smiling can make us happier!

I’m now referring to my smile-first-thing-in-the-morning ritual as a research-based wellness practice guaranteed to help me cultivate a good life, and that makes me smile a little wider.

Photo Credit: Justin Hackworth

A Note From Becky

While we’ve only seen each other in person a couple times, I feel really drawn to Amy because she comes across to me as one of the most sincere, compassionate, tender-hearted, generous women. She exudes light and I’m grateful for her example. She’s the type of person who makes those around her feel special, which is such a beautiful quality in any human being.

Connect with Amy: Instagram