(This is where you smile and time yourself for one minute).
I originally performed this with a generous audience as part of a conversation about happiness at Montalvo Arts Center on February 20, 2013. I was incredibly touched by the audience, who received the work with great care, similar to when I first exhibited these texts. We smiled at each other and realized that a minute felt so long. Our awkward giggles filled the space with beautiful sound.
Smiling does influence emotions positively (science even says so).
I’m reminded of Linda Montano’s 1973 Happiness Piece, where she photographed herself smiling every morning for a month. In her book Art in Everyday Life she writes, “I felt somber, sad, and thought that everyone else could smile and I couldn’t. I knew that I could change if I practiced and so I repeated positive acts consistently – I wanted the habit of happiness to be available to me so I disciplined myself to smile everyday.”
I really love the simplicity, self-awareness and sense of possibility with Montano’s Happiness Piece. She never shares if it works, only that she did it for a month in 1973. It’s an invitation to us, really. To try to smile every day, even on the days when we least want to.