We all need more reasons to be cheerful at the moment with the constant drip feed of negative media about the Covid19 pandemic. Research has shown that we can trick our brains into happiness by the simple act of smiling but it’s not always the easiest thing to do, especially after a stressful day. But if you can take it upon yourself to crack a smile, you’ll actually feel better.
Smiling spurs a powerful chemical reaction in the brain that science has shown can lift your mood, lower stress levels, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life. According to research by Psychology Today children on average smile 400 times a day. Happy adults smile around 40-50 times a day whilst the average for most is 20 times a day. Those considering Botox for their frown lines should also take note. It takes more muscles to frown than to smile!
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS: Ian Dury from The Blockheads posed in The Paradiso, Amsterdam, Holland in 1977
(Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)
The topic of smiling and feeling cheerful brought the singer-songwriter Ian Dury to mind. Dury rose to fame in the late 1970s during the punk and new wave era of rock music. He was the lead singer of Ian Dury and the Blockheads with whom he recorded several hit records, including Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (1977), Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (1978) and Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3, which reached number 3 in the UK Singles Chart in 1979. Despite the setback of having contracted polio when he was only seven, which gave him a permanently disabled left leg, shoulder and arm, Dury did not let this limit what he achieved musically. Reasons to be Cheerful, described as the ‘shopping list song’, is a simple list of Dury’s reasons to be cheerful. We have reproduced a section of the lyrics below.
Summer, Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good golly, Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley and nanny goats
Eighteen wheeler Scammells, Dominica camels
All other mammals plus equal votes
Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willie
Being rather silly and porridge oats
A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You’re welcome we can spare it, yellow socks…
Just listening to the song again after all these years and reading the crazy lyrics above you can’t help but smile!
Smiles and laughs can come out of nowhere. Some of the things that gave me reasons to be cheerful, parts 1, 2 and 3, this week included:
Part 1: A beautiful fox with a white tipped tail which popped out of a hedge onto a Surrey road, trotted a few paces and turned into the next door house’s drive. Obviously a well-worn route for food!
Part 2: A shared chuckle with a friend (via the microphone on Whatsapp!) over a mistake I made on social media. Still learning…!
Part 3: A murmuration of starllngs whooshing past in the sky overhead whilst standing in a Wiltshire paddock. Nature is such a bringer of joy.
It’s not as eclectic a list of reasons to be cheerful as Dury’s song but those tiny moments in time served a purpose as they made me smile and realise how fortune I am to have my health and my family. We could all make a mental list of small blessings and reasons to be cheerful the next time we’re feeling a bit low, and use it to give us the mood boost we’re looking for. And if you’re in a good mood, why not flash those pearly whites at a stranger and pass along the good vibes?