Everything takes practice. Practice makes progress (in either direction: beneficial or un-beneficial). I think this can be one of those teachings where we can understand it but perhaps only on an intellectual level at first (as is true for many Buddhist teachings). When we grasp a teaching with only our minds we don’t get the benefits of understanding the whole teaching on a deeper heart level, which can often be a stumbling block to practice.
Smiling is something I personally practice and I find it an important mindfulness tool. I’ve shared it multiple times before on this blog but one of my favorite quotes is from Thich Nhat Hanh that says, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” This quote contains very profound teachings. Looking deeply I see the teachings of interbeing, impermanence, and non-duality in this quote.
I’m a smiling type of person. My mom is a smiling type of person too. So I grew up with smiling. And while I may have an easier time smiling then others who were not raised in a smiling sort of environment, because I’ve had more time to practice, that doesn’t mean I don’t continue to put effort into cultivating the art of smiling.
Part of what I see in regards to not fully understanding that everything does indeed take practice is the common misperception that people are just born a certain way. We see someone who’s really good at playing the guitar or singing or quilting or painting or playing football or cooking and we think: Man, I could never do that. They’re so good! Now of course it’s true that there are some prodigies out there who are born with certain extraordinary talents and skills but let us remember that this number is extremely low and prodigies are very rare. A vast majority of us practice and practice and practice to gain skill at whatever it is we’re doing. Along these same lines I’d like to share another quote that I really like:
“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo