In Recovery: Your Destination is NOT Your Destiny

travel-passport-photo
Recovery does not need to be so serious. Smiling a little will open us to the world around us and within us.

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Recently I updated my passport. When I took my photo, I put on my saddest face. Apparently everyone involved liked the sad-me photo, because my application was approved by the powers that be.

Passports have a few important rules:

  1. Bring two passport photos of yourself.
  2. Don’t smile.
  3. Complete your documents correctly.

Why are passport photos so serious? I get that we are fighting terrorism and international crime. But is this something that we want every traveler in the world to think about when they travel?

Passports are no longer a declaration of where we have been. They are a declaration of where we are going and it appears that our destination is Serious.

Perhaps we should add a disclaimer too our passports? “In case you forget: the world is unsafe.”

I don’t get why we have the serious photos. Why wouldn’t we want to convey confidence, a hint of fun and yes, even hope? Turns out, the ban on smiling is not a popular thing. In fact, some researchers have taken a serious look at the passport smile-ban. It turns out that the serious face is not the safest face out there: not smiling has the effect of distorting distort our facial features.

Passports are no longer a declaration of where we have been. They are a declaration of where we are going and it appears that our destination is Serious.

Things are too serious these days

Even at my son’s soccer game, the arena posted five simple rules for parents and fans to be mindful of:

  1. Soccer is a game.
  2. We are teaching our youth how to play well.
  3. This is not the world cup.
  4. The officials are people too.
  5. Everyone has a part.

The rules are helpful and in today’s world we need them. But the Soccer rules forget one thing: The game is supposed to be fun.  It is a game, but can we not enjoy ourselves without taking things too seriously?

Maybe the Passport people could learn something from soccer? Passport rules are simple and important, but they miss the point of going somewhere. Sure, take things seriously and yes, the world can be unsafe. But the world is also mysterious, exciting, full of surprises and yes, it is still fun out there.

How we travel tells our story

I don’t think that ditching the rules will solve anything. But maybe gazing a little longer at our passports will help us to gain some perspective. If we smiled more, maybe we could recover a sense of hope about our world?

I get that smiling won’t make everything better, but I guarantee that smiling more won’t make anything any worse.

I write a lot about recovery and this story reminds me that how we get to our destination is probably more important than where we are going. We have it wrong. Our destination is not our destiny… HOW we travel tells our story.

Life and recovery does not need to be so serious. In fact, when we smile, we relax. We are more open to the world around us and within us. We are a little more willing to be creative and to take a risk. We are more inviting.

Life and recovery does not need to be so serious. In fact, when we smile, we relax. We are more open to the world around us and within us. We are a little more willing to be creative and to take a risk. We are more inviting.

We have so many things that can pull us down and remind us that the world is serious and unsafe. Sorry to say this, but laughter will take some effort… but it’s worth it.

If you enjoyed this article, you will also want to read some of my other work:

When is Being Good a Bad Thing?

Laughing Loudly While Crying into Your Beer

A Serious Guide to Humor at Work

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.

Lastly, if you like my writing, you can click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real

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4 thoughts on “In Recovery: Your Destination is NOT Your Destiny

  1. Love this article Sean – you are right on with the “serious” look. Try smiling at strangers in the mall! Often they DONT even want to make eye contact. Hey, I’m an old lady and perfectly harmless; I just want to make your day brighter!!!!

    Like

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