Smile, Breathe, and Go Slowly: A Powerful Mantra for a Simpler Life

The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said many wise things during his life.

But one piece of advice that he shared was particularly jam-packed with good ideas:

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.

This short statement is a powerful mantra to keep in mind.

To understand why let’s break the quote down and take a close look at each idea within it.


We all know that when we feel good, we tend to smile.

But what’s less intuitive is that this works the other way around, too.

When we smile, we tend to feel good.1

Deliberate smiling releases tension in your face, mind, body — and everyone around you.

So, as you go about your daily business, it’s a good practice to do it with a gentle smile on your lips.


It’s surprisingly easy to fall into incorrect breathing patterns.

And suboptimal breathing negatively affects your health, energy, and well-being in many ways.2

Luckily, you can learn how to breathe optimally by following three simple rules:

  1. Breathe through your nose.
  2. Breathe into your belly.
  3. Exhale longer than you inhale.

The more you breathe this way, the more habitual it will become.

And the better you breathe, the better your body and mind will function.

Go Slowly

We all tend to assume that more speed leads to faster results.

But in reality, more speed often just leads to unnecessary stress, more mistakes, and slower progress.

So, instead of rushing through your daily tasks, it makes sense to do them slowly.

That way, you’ll enjoy your tasks much more and probably still finish them at least as quickly.3

Smile, Breathe, and Go Slowly

If these ideas resonate with you, I encourage you to keep Thich Nhat Hanh’s wise words close at heart.

As you go about your days, continually remind yourself to:

  • Smile — A slight hint of a smile will release tension in yourself and others.
  • Breathe — Through your nose, into your belly, and with a slightly extended exhale.
  • Go Slowly — Dial back your effort, take your time, and go with the flow.

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.

If you do that, everything else will be much easier.


  1. Inhibiting and Facilitating Conditions of the Human Smile: A Nonobtrusive Test of the Facial Feedback Hypothesis
  2. The Power of Your Breath by Anders Olsson
  3. Relax for the Same Result

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