imageAfter writing that question, I noticed that I was smiling—and it's that awareness that makes me sparkle. It reminds me that I am indeed living in the moment. To me, nothing else matters, well, except for writing this post, of course.

So, To Smile or Not To Smile?

Just knowing that the choice is ours to make is empowering.

Not too long ago, I thought everything had to be perfect. In fact, I didn't even realize that I had a choice in the matter. The lack of a smile indicated imperfection and clearly, imperfection meant failure. For me, wiggle room seemed incredibly scarce.

Yet I know that utilizing an all-or-nothing mentality to define success is a one-way ticket to Doomsville. While you may end up with a “perfect” life on the outside, you’ll likely sacrifice yourself in the process. Yes, you’ll have a life, but you won’t be living it.

When I saw that I was falling into that trap, I decided to become proactive. So while I smile a lot and strive to achieve my dreams, I am still a regular person with myriad flaws and bad days.

With less than a week until PERSEVERANCE is published, I am asked repeatedly if this is the most exciting time of my life. Everyone expects me to have a permanent smile on my face but instead, I'm really both nervous and excited. I don’t smile constantly and actually cry sometimes because of the pressure I feel (I know, Doomsville here I come). But if I wear a smile for others, I would only be suppressing my actual feelings. Not very authentic of me, right? But if I fail to smile, then I’m perceived as being either 1) terribly ungrateful for this incredible opportunity or 2) a garden variety, negative person. In fact, I'm neither of those. So to smile or not to smile—that is the question.

I've decided that above all else, I will respect myself. That means I'm going to smile naturally and share my joy and feelings of glee. Yes, indeed, I'm excited and proud! But it also means that I'm not going to smile every moment of every day just to sidestep others' reactions. I'm going to ride the waves and let my smile appear—or not—without force.

When it comes to intentions related to my current endeavors, it is very important for me to remain honest (to myself and others). I want to provide an authentic portrayal of this experience. So while I won’t sugarcoat the experience, I won’t downplay the positives, either. There are pros and cons to everything in life, and I wish more people were willing to share both sides rather than focus on one extreme or the other.

To Smile or Not To Smile? It’s now your question to answer.

: : :

* PERSEVERANCE will be released August 18th! Pre-order PERSEVERANCE today! I sincerely appreciate your support.

* Each day, I post inspiring tips focused on turning knowledge into action and action into change. You can read these tips and much more on!

About the Author

Carolyn Rubenstein

Carolyn Rubenstein is the author of Perseverance, a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student at Harvard, and the Founder/President of a non-profit organization for young adult cancer survivors.

You are reading

Now Is Everything

7 Profound Quotes: What We Learn Through Writing

Writing can guide you toward a happier, more purpose-driven life.

How to Begin to Cultivate Hope After Failing

Begin to Cultivate Hope After Failing

18 Guideposts for Your Personal Journey

Advice for someone starting a new journey in life.