Out Of Control


A stack of 14 empty potato chip bags.  Yes, a weird thing to collect.

When I’m out of control with eating, (like lately) the only thing that keeps me from eating whatever I want is social acceptability.  My idea of eating and social acceptability has changed over time, though.  As a kid and young adult, I thought I should eat whenever anyone else was eating.  So, I used to eat whenever I saw another person eating. This means I might basically have lunch twice and a snack if I was hanging out in a dining room or break room.

This isn’t logical or sustainable. Yesterday, I was at a party. I started eating snacks as soon as someone else began eating. (If you’re curious, I ate a banana, some popcorn, and one piece of candy before the party really got started.) But then, people (all the people at the party) were eating for at least a half hour. So, I ate three mini-cupcakes and a mini brownie and more popcorn before I finally left. I actually walked out of the party with the third mini-cupcake so I could enjoy it in relative privacy.

Even with that ridiculousness, I still made better decisions than I would have in the past.  For example:
1. I didn’t eat everything all at once. I waited until the party ‘commencement,’ when it was officially acceptable to eat the cupcakes before I got any.  I wouldn’t have eaten before ‘commencement’ at all except one of the party honorees started eating early.

2. I stalled in the food line by picking up pretzels that fell on the ground and let people go in front of me to give myself time to calm down (because I was obsessing over the cupcakes).

3. I waited until I sat down before eating any food. (Strict adherence to perceived social norms saves me sometimes. I think that’s partly why they exist, actually.)

4. I took cinnamon pills beforehand. They’re supposed to help with insulin resistance. I knew I was going to eat something I shouldn’t, so I mitigated the damage.

5. I used the standing desk afterwards. Standing burns more calories and gets more sugar into my cells and out of the blood stream.

Character is who you are when no one is watching. –Fortune Cookie

However, I still have so much room to improve. Instead of eating like everyone, I need to eat like one person.  So, I tried that out the next day as the week of out of control continued.  The next morning, our intern brought donuts. (He was at the party yesterday, but I guess he doesn’t care how much junk he eats. Plus, it’s his last week, and he was trying to be nice on a college kid’s budget.)  So, there were two people eating donuts with me this morning.  One guy cut a donut in half.  (I tip my hat to you, sir.)  The other guy ate two donuts.  I ate a half a donut…Then came back and got another donut and a half. So, at least now I’m eating like one person instead of all of them. My usual number of donuts, pre-pre-diabetes, was four (4), or two donuts and two kolaches.

I think eating like one person is a good rule that I’m going to have to incorporate. I can’t always be in perfect control, but I can make incrementally better decisions.  Right now, I need really big increments.  Like, huge chunks of better decisions, preferably with lots of vegetables, perhaps in curry.




Diligence and Integrity

A brilliant blue sky over a field of white clouds, with a plane wing jutting out.   We would often like to fly over the details, but that’s not how things get done.  At the same time, diligence keeps us moving toward the goal when details threaten to weigh us down.  

​I’ve always wanted to have integrity,  even before I knew what it was.  I wanted to be someone who was true to herself and her values, and also to do what she said she would do.  Recently, at work, I was asked to discuss what diligence, one of our organization’s values meant to me.   So, this might seem a little hokey to most people, since most every organization has some dysfunction, and it usually centers around follow-through.  

To me, diligence means follow-through.  At our organization, we don’t just put processes in place, we use them.  When we make decisions, we stand by them.  When we make changes, we let people know.  When we say these are our values, that’s what we work from and live by.  At our organization, when we make recommendations, we researched and thought it through to come to the best path or set of options. And at our organization, when we say a job is completed, the work is done. 

I think diligence is important because work is often wasted if it is not carried across the finish line, whatever that finish line is.  Sometimes you do not have to go an extra mile to be extraordinary, just go the last mile to the finish line.  People are not going to use your program or procedure or form or even that equipment or software you installed if you do not finish the work, let people know it is available, show them how to use it.  People are not going to take your recommendations if you do not put any thought into them.  If you are a leader, other people are relying on your diligence to review, approve, and support their work, and they need you to move forward.  And if you are not content where you are, if you want to improve yourself or move up in the world, that takes diligence too.  

I didn’t realize how strongly I felt about diligence, or how much I had learned about it, until I wrote this, but I think it’s an important value and skill.  Diligence is the skill that finishes the job.  When the excitement and novelty for a task has worn off, when it’s not interesting any more,  when you’re bored with it, there comes a point where you decide if all the work up to this point is meaningless.  If you decide you’ve wasted your time, then sure, don’t finish.  Sometimes, the value and meaning was in the journey up to this point.   But, if you want that work to have meant something, if you want to have integrity, you probably have to finish it, because people with integrity do what they say they will do.   And it takes diligence to finish the tasks you’ve committed to.  

Again, I’m sure this sounds hokey to many people, but where I work, I see many examples of diligence which help me to feel proud of our work and secure in the knowledge that my coworkers will deliver,  and so my work will not be wasted, approvals or next steps languishing on someone else’s to-do list.  

No one’s perfect at this or anything else,  but I’m proud of my integrity, and so I am careful what I commit to, and I try to finish what I start.  

Letting Go: My Coin Collection

Coins represent travel, wealth, art to me.  I started because my grandparents collect coins.  They are tangible, weighty, artistic,  and historic.  Their weight makes them earthy, and their materials make them shiny or gives them a vintage patina. 
Friends and family gave me coins when I was younger, when they came back from a trip or found a wheat penny in their pocket change.  I guess despite my fear of math, my family fostered in me an interest in money.  Some of them taught me to save.  Some of them taught me to invest. 

My third grandmother used to give me coffee cans full of pennies, sometimes half-full, pennies she and my third grandpa had collected from pocket change and off the street.  She gave them to me for Christmas and birthdays sometimes.  I recall that a quart-size coffee can held at least $14 in pennies.  So, I had savings as well as a collection of uncommon and foreign coins.  I’ve kept the collection of coins throughout my childhood, and many people contributed to it, including my dad, friends of the family, and all three sets of grandparents.

My grandparents bought me small bonds and CDs (certificates of deposit) and provided me with a good start for college.  I am so blessed to have all these people who cared to ease my way.  My coin collection is connected to that because they were given at the same times–Christmas and birthdays.  So to me, the coin collection also represents education, security, and an inheritance, something my family carefully nurtured and bequeathed to me.  

But my family didn’t bequeath to me any expensive coins, but instead the value of education and careful savings.  My coin collection wasn’t actually worth anything when I tried to sell it.  And the coin collection did not actually hold these values, just reminded me of them.  Yet, it was still hard to let go of the collection.  That’s partly why I’m enshrining it here in this post.  Even though it was relatively small, the collection weighed in my mind.  

There were many reasons it caused me unease, one reason being that it wasn’t really increasing in value,  though as a kid,  I thought it would be “worth something” someday.  It’s not really am investment to depend on other people to think you have something rare and worth buying that doesn’t have a practical use.  

Also, as I’ve learned more about the world, it now seems tacky and inappropriate to collect money with no  intention of spending, saving, or investing it.  

It’s like a recent pattern I’ve seen of landscaping that includes edible plants as decoration.  I first noticed it next to a freeway.  Some beet greens were mixed in with pansies and bushes.  Then, I noticed some kale stuck in with the succulents in a parking lot.  Both times, the plants looked beautiful, but I also knew you could buy them in the grocery store for about $4 a bundle.  I wanted to stop and pick them up for dinner.  And it seems wrong to decorate with edible plants when there are people starving in the world.  In that same vein,  I don’t think it’s right to collect money for its own sake, as though it were an end unto itself, when there are people living in poverty.  The more I thought about it, the worse coin collecting seemed, like Mr. Scrooge hoarding money without giving to charity.  At least, that’s my take on it. 

Like Scrooge, I enjoyed touching the coins.  I also enjoyed the history and artwork, seeing what the coins had to say about their country, what the wear on the coins said about their travels.  It made me feel connected to far off places.  But this hobby didn’t bring me any closer to my friends or family or even to traveling. It’s usually a solo activity, like a magpie collecting for its nest.

So, here I take my stand.  I won’t own a coin collection anymore.  It was a small thing, but it weighed on me, so I let it go.  

Things To Be Grateful For: My Smile 

A city sunrise orange and blue with wispy clouds.

Once upon a time,  my smile was broken.  When people smile at me in passing, I struggled to pull it out in time to smile back.   Often, it wouldn’t show up.  My smile had abandoned me.  While telling a joke, greeting friends and family,  or even laughing,  my smile would not cooperate.   My face would contort, but get stuck.  Like the Tin Man, my smile needed oiling,  a massage, a vacation.  It was flat and tense, a mess.  I could robotically move my face,  but only a grimace, or a thin, tight line would appear.  

Many comedy skits, healthy choices,  and positive affirmations later,  my smile is back.  It’s healthy, even robust at times.  It peeks out often,  like my personal sunrise.   And I can show it to others any time.  I look up, see a familiar face, smile, and say their name.  

I work now to keep my smile limber.  I take care to limit the amount of the sad, gritty part of the world I feed to my soul. Now, I hope and pray that my smile supports and props up other smiles.  Everyone struggles at times.  We all need smiles to help.  

Things That Are Free

Sunlight & Moonlight

Sunrises & Sunsets

Walking & Running

Wind & Rain

Feeling the wind and sun on your face

Playing in the snow

Jumping in a puddle

Landscapes & Cityscapes

Enjoying the beauty of your own town

Finding the place where your own everyday view becomes a work of art

Laughing & Smiling

Telling jokes to yourself or others

Praying & Meditating 

Growing closer to God 

Having faith 

Calming down

Taking care of yourself

Singing & Dancing

Expressing joy

Having fun

Reading & Thinking

Talking & Listening

Smelling Flowers

Hugging friends & family


Remembering good times 

Imagining a wonderful future


Visiting with your neighbor

Helping those less fortunate


Everything can be taken from a [person] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. 

–Dr. Viktor Frankl, psychologist and Holocaust survivor

Everywhere there are people oppressed,  down-trodden, ill, or just sad.  In this world, there are people who are not free or who do not have enough food to eat or who are trapped in war zones.  And I worry about whether my clothes are flattering, my bulging waist line, my hair cut, my messy house, whether my very considerate husband is considerate enough when I come home from work cranky.   

Sometimes I feel like my life is chock full of triviality and insignificant cosmetic details.  Other times,  I know the surface reflects a deep pool of growth. I, too, have been ill. I, too, have not had enough of something.  For me, it was air–my allergies and their torturous effect on my sleep.  Fortunately,  I have great doctors and ways to combat this illness.  But others do not have these benefits.  Their treatments don’t work, they cannot be diagnosed,  or they cannot afford some simple cure.  

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. 

–Dr. Viktor Frankl

But even with these things weighing on us, our struggles, the ways we feel trapped or are trapped, the ways some are figuratively and others literally under siege, we have some freedom.  And most of us can enjoy these things that are free.

I have made a New Year’s resolution not to shop for things that can’t be bought in the grocery store.  I needed a break from compulsive shopping and more moments enjoying the things that are free.  I don’t feel free when I shop.  I feel free when I write.  I feel free when I breathe.  I feel free with my family.  I feel free when I read.  When I shop, I am anxious, hold my breath, sweat, regret.  I live in a consumption culture, and I am fighting the tide, swimming against the current. 

We have the freedom to choose our attitude, and we have so many things to enjoy that are free. 

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.  

–Dr. Viktor Frankl

Ways My Mindset Has Changed 

I’m feeling lucky about this year. Close-up field of bright green clover.
When I began changing my lifestyle to improve my health, I wanted the needed changes to my diet and lifestyle to be as natural as the way I lived and ate at the time.  At the time, about four (4) years ago, I had a lot of unhealthy habits that were “natural” me.  

Before, I would fixate on food.  I was ruled by triggers like smelling someone else’s delicious meal or seeing someone else eat dessert or cookies or spying a candy bowl.   I had a hard time paying attention to what someone was saying if they were eating and I was not.  Now,  I’ve often drunk a protein shake and then watched people eat a meal.  I still crave a hot meal or something sweet plenty, but I’m no longer on the “see food” diet, and that’s a relief.  

Now,  I often crave salads and veggies.  I still crave other stuff, but there are times when the vision that floats before my eyes isn’t that of a burger and fries or a milkshake or a sandwich, even.  Sometimes, now, my body remembers the greens I’ve eaten in the past and realizes it’s been too long.  And “too long”, now, is less than the once a week, which is how often I used to think I needed salad.  Now, I crave green things at least once a day.

It used to be that I couldn’t get enough of sweet things.  I ate too much of desserts, candy, cookies, ice cream, and “breakfast desserts” like pancakes, waffles, donuts, toast and jelly,  French toast, toaster strudels, and pop tarts.  Now, these often seem much too sweet to me.  I eat 60% cacao chocolate with unsweetened peanut butter as dessert.  Like a smoker who quits and eventually regains their sense of taste, without so many carbs and sugar in my diet, I can now taste the sweetness in dark chocolate and in fruits and enjoy them.  I was like a person walking in the noonday sun,  so surrounded by bright light that I was blinded when I walked into something that had a moderate amount of sugar in it.  I couldn’t taste a little sugar because I was so used to a lot of sugar.  But now, I can taste when something is just a bit sweet,  and that’s enough and plenty.  

I used to think working out once or twice a week was a good deal.  The times a week was the goal I could never achieve.  But now, I want to work out every day.  I can feel that my body needs it.  And even though I might not get a full workout in every day,  I have a standing desk at the office that helps keep my blood sugar stable and my heart pumping more than my old desk did.  

It used to be that I rewarded myself with food, a lot.  I rewarded myself with food when something good happened, when I did something healthy,  and when I was having a rough day.  I had a lot of rough days,  and pizza or burgers were not a solution to the rough days caused by my blood sugar issues.  Now, I ask myself whether I really need a food reward,  whether what I’m eating before or after a workout is a compensatory behavior, making up for the workout and not improving my health.  I try to reward myself with other things I enjoy. 

Recording the truth about my illness means telling the bad and the good.  I feel pretty good about the changes I’ve made. Even if I’m not that great at focusing on them here, I am proud of my progress.  I have blood tests that show a measurable difference as well.  For me, this lifestyle change has been all about finding a way to make that jello stick to the wall.  If nails don’t work, there’s a million other things to try.  If you just keep trying you’ll make your own healthy habits, and one day you’ll wake up to find the impossible is now reality.  I never imagined I would be eating chia seeds and avocado for breakfast, and enjoying it,  but I do. 

Finding Relief in Minimalism

Half Paper Snowflake

Life is both beautiful and complex. But not every complexity is beautiful.

I adopted minimalism in response to living in a mess and having feelings of overwhelm that I’ve felt most of my life.  I’ve been working to reach some ideal of ‘clean’ and ‘minimal’ ever since,  with some level of success.  I know I don’t enjoy living in a mess.  However,  I learned recently that chemical imbalances in the brain can cause that feeling of overwhelm.  I’ve experienced feelings of being overwhelmed simply from a chemical imbalance, and  practicing minimalism has helped me.  
Staying Tuned In to My Body and Brain

Sometimes if I’m experiencing a chemical imbalance that leads to feeling overwhelmed, I will eventually realize it because the feelings will come when I try to accomplish things I can normally handle just fine.  For example,  when I’m doing household chores,  they aren’t necessarily pleasant,  but I can get some done.  If I’m feeling unusually overwhelmed, I’ll find myself sitting on the couch just watching TV instead of folding clothes while watching TV, no matter what my intentions are.  Or, I might find that I gave the feelings with no specific thing that triggered them. 

Dealing with the Feelings

Once I realize what’s going on, I can take action to combat the feelings.  When I feel overwhelmed, I’m not usually incapable of getting out of bed,  but can be easily confused and distracted. To combat feeling overwhelmed,  I might ask my husband to help me decide which chore to do, to help me get started on a task, or to go to the gym with me, since working out often helps.  If I’m at work, I might take a step back from what I’m doing (or most likely not doing) and take the decision process a bit more slowly,  or switch to a simpler task.  I will also re-evaluate my recent diet and supplement intake.  If I’m getting all the nutrients I need, maybe I’m experiencing PMS or maybe my body is having trouble absorbing those nutrients.  Fortunately,  I have a nutritionist I can talk with when I’m having trouble.  

Moving Clutter Quickly

Having fewer items in my home and on my desk at work has helped me when these feelings come along.  My house is always a little messy,  and I’m constantly cutting clutter because my husband and I both enjoy shopping and have generous families cutting their own clutter.  Having an easy, well-practiced decision-making framework helps us get junk out of our house quickly.  

Keeping Clutter Out

I also have high standards for items that come into our home.  My husband and I often have many conversations before we purchase an appliance, a storage solution,  or a piece of furniture.  We try to reach consensus before buying, which means a product has to meet his criteria for quality, functionality, and fit,  and my criteria for price, features, priority, and aesthetics.  We’re still relatively new homeowners, and the home improvement bug is a strong one. We still shop a lot, thinking it will make our lives easier or more convenient.  But at least with high standards for what comes into our home, we have fewer projects and more time to do them.  

Money and Bills

I personally feel overwhelmed at times when I see our bills and debt.  We both have student loans in addition to our mortgage.  In order to address these feelings, chemical or just situational, I have a plan for paying down our debt.  We’ve got a budget spreadsheet so we can track bills, and I learned how to amortize loans from the internet so that we could decide how much we wanted to pay on each one.  It may seem depressing to some to see each loan and that some won’t be paid off for at least ten years,  but really, before we knew how long, we just thought it would be forever.  I think part of being a minimalist is living free from debt.  We aren’t there yet,  but we take it one day at a time. 

We aren’t minimalists who don’t buy stuff,  or minimalists that only own 100 items.  However, minimalism is a journey and not a destination.  

Weight Gain

Avocado slices with sea salt and chia seeds in unsweetened coconut milk with a bit of cinnamon.

My weight is still going up.  I am so afraid to be out of control of my body because I thought I was in control for the first time in my life.  I thought I was now a sculptor. I have never before been a conscious, conscientious, patient, intelligent sculptor of my body.  I thought I was making something beautiful, molding it out of lumpy, flabby clay.  I wanted to make something strong and shapely and youthful and skinny.  

But I’m faced once again with my own powerlessness, my imperfect knowledge of the workings of this imperfect, yet resilient, soft machinery.  And it is very soft, like a waterbed.  It’s soggy and dumpy instead of the hard, yet curvy stone that I wanted.  

The idea that I should be able to control my body, steer it like a car or carve it like a block of wood is so ingrained in me I can feel the desire in my bones.  And yet, I never had the skill to do anything about it because, whether I was taught or not, I couldn’t stick to a routine that would get me there, and for most of my life, I didn’t know what or how much to eat.  I was totally out of control of this thing I’d been told I was master of, this thing I should  whip into shape. 

There’s a lot of levels here. What is control?  An illusion.  We don’t control things.  And control my weight?  Homeostasis is fixing that for me.  My body is in control of my weight. And it will keep me as big as possible because that’s the kind of body I have.  My body will slow my already slow metabolism to keep me from “starving”.  My body is efficient in its energy use, clever in its tricks to get me to eat, increasing my appetite, throwing cravings at me, lazily encouraging compensatory behaviors so that I skip the stairs and take the elevator or watch TV today because I worked out yesterday.  I am not really in control, and I have to accept that.  

I also have to accept that my extraordinary beauty doesn’t fit the mold of ‘model’.  I am not currently a size 2, 4, or 6, and probably only an occasional 8 due to vanity sizing.  I have always wanted to fit in a mold.  I wanted to be Barbie.  I wanted blonde hair.  I thought I’d wear heels because that was the shape of Barbie’s feet.  

I’m sad and disappointed when I look at the scale.  But I have to accept that I’m not in control.  I have to focus on the ‘lead measures’ like they say in the Four Disciplines of Execution.  My lead measures are eating unprocessed foods  in the right proportions, avoiding allergens, managing my stress, and exercising every day.  Exercising every day.  If I can follow these, then I will be doing my part, and I can feel good about what I’m doing.  If I’m not doing my part, how can I expect to get better? 

But weight isn’t even a measure of getting better.  I thought I was going to lose weight when my blood sugar stabilized.  But guess what?  My blood sugar is stabilized.  My nutritionist says that my last A1C was 4.8.  I don’t really know what that means, but she says it’s really good.  I wanted stable blood sugar, and now I have had it, at least once, the same as I had a pair of size 4 jeans that fit.  The challenge now, just like with the jeans, is keeping it.  

These things that I thought were so inextricably connected–weight and health–have little to do with one another.  Skinny is not something to worship, but a false badge of success.  I have to give up control that I don’t have anyway.  I have to accept my beautiful body that doesn’t fit the mold of size 4 jeans anymore.  And for me, I have to have faith. 

I have to have faith in the process, faith in my doctors, faith that God made me this way, gave me this sloth-like metabolism and plunked me down here in the Land of Plenty with a sweet tooth for a reason.  I have faith that the reason I’m here now with these challenges, or more likely those reasons, are worth finding out.  There are reasons like understanding my grandmother and what her life was like growing up during the Depression with just enough maybe, understanding my mother, and what her life was like as a single mother, and how stress made it difficult to care for her health.  There are echoes of this in my life even now.  

There are reasons like understanding that liars and thieves and tempters are not just in fairy tales or the history books as snake oil salesmen and Taminy Hall reps and those first men of industry who treated people like cogs.  Liars told me I shouldn’t eat fat and sold me junk and called it food.  Thieves stole my health and youth, as easily as a fae might have charmed me and left me an old woman.  And I am tempted every day by the junk that is so ubiquitous that it causes even me to forget that it’s not really food.  To me, food nourishes, has vitamins and minerals, while junk just pretends with colors and chemicals.  

I didn’t know where to look for the snake oil salesmen of my generation because they didn’t come to my door peddling, and they sold me something I wanted to believe in–the junk and its “convenience”.  But now I know, I guess. I’ve been sucking the poison out of my life ever since.  I thought the weight would go with it, but maybe not.  And I guess that’s ok.  

My Nose

The nose in question. It seems so innocuous.

My nose is stuffy.  My nose is dry.  My nose is clear.  My nose is inflamed.  My nose is itchy.  My nose is dripping.  

I blow my nose. I wet my nose.  I fill my nose with saline. I spray my nose with steroids.  I help my nose with anti-histamines.  I wipe my nose.  I rub my nose.  

I’m obsessed with my nose.  My nose is high maintenance.  It’s rarely just fine. It’s  rarely just mine. 

Strategy 3 To Cheer Myself Up and Stay Positive–Smiling, Laughing, Comedy


This is what I think of when I hear the Spanish word for smile. Una sonrisa sounds like ‘sunrise,’ a beautiful golden sunrise over a dry, barren landscape, but it means ‘a smile’.

When I’m going through a very rough time, I’ll notice that it becomes hard to smile. I start making especially sarcastic jokes and biting comments, without smiling. My humor is pretty dry already. People around me start to look confused because they don’t know if I’m joking or not. Maybe people don’t think it’s funny but feel the cue to laugh. Either way, I’m not very funny. And even I don’t think things I say are very funny. My comments will be on the end of the funny spectrum reserved for veiled complaints and open criticism.

Humor is supposed to be a defense and relief from tense situations. You’re not supposed to use it to feed your rage and bitterness. That makes you brittle. I had to ask myself after I made a “joke” if my intention really was to be funny or to complain or criticize. If I wasn’t trying to be funny, then I tried to keep those comments to myself. I got quite a bit quieter for a while.

In addition, I try to avoid things that make me feel sad, including TV shows, topics of conversation, and plain, old thoughts of my own. I try to be sensitive to the feelings of others, so I don’t ask people to stop talking about something sad if it seems like they need to talk about it or if my listening can help. But there is no reason to dwell on overly-sad or serious topics unless there’s something being accomplished even when you’re an overly-serious chick like myself.

So, I started watching and listening to stand-up comedy. I listen on Pandora, where they’ll introduce you to comedians similar to the ones you thumbs-up. I found a lot of new-to-me comedians that I really enjoyed. Laughing and smiling got easier. Sitting at work trying not to giggle out loud while I’m working is so much better than sitting there feeling bitter and resentful or trying to keep the resentment at bay with no plan at all.

I also watch stand-up on Netflix, and SNL clips on YouTube at home. I search for “funny” on Pinterest. Pinterest has memes and Tumblr screenshots that are hilarious because there’s a lot of nerdy book people on Pinterest. That’s the never-ending scroll of my choice–funny stuff on Pinterest. I just practice smiling and laughing out loud, as hard as I can.

It doesn’t work all the time, but if I can’t enjoy it at least a little, I figure I’m low on the happy chemicals in my brain (serotonin and dopamine and such). That requires a different solution sometimes. But even when I don’t feel like it, I try to smile, because even that supposedly triggers happy chemicals in the brain (dopamine).

Psychology Today on Smiling
More on Smiling in Psychology Today