The Power of Smiling
While what we experience today may have derived from an initially aggressive behavior of bearing our teeth to a potential enemy, smiling in humans has evolved into a much more socially-encouraging behavior. Sure, we may still have the sneer and the smug smile, but the majority of smiles serve to boost our positivity.
The act of smiling itself takes little to no effort on our facial muscles, and significantly less effort than frowning. With that small effort can come an exponential amount of joy. Smiling is magical in so many ways, and has surprising benefits to our mental, emotional, and physical health.
Smiling Makes the World Smile
Smiling may be even more contagious than yawning. While there are certainly those smiles that have been met with scowls, the majority are met by other smiles. Humans have a natural tendency to reflect or mimic the behaviors they see. So why not encourage others to mimic the positive and smile big?
Smiling Lifts Your Mood
Studies have shown that when a person smiles, their brain releases a flood of neuropeptides, such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. This team of neuropeptides helps to reduce anxiety and regulate mood. Studies have shown that a lack of serotonin, endorphins, or dopamine have also been linked to depression.
Smiling Keeps You Healthy
There are many underlying health issues that can be detected by noticing any changes or gum issues in your mouth, such as gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease. Smiling wide and taking a close look at your teeth every day may help alert you to any healthy lifestyle changes you may need to make ... like flossing every day.
Smiling Can Help You Live Longer
In 2010, Wayne State University completed a study in which the smiles on the faces of player baseball cards were evaluated. They compared what they called a "no smile", "a partial smile", and "a full smile" and cross-referenced these with the lifespan of the player. Their results showed that players who smiled fully in their picture lived an average of seven years longer than those who didn’t smile at all.
Smiling Builds Relationships
If you’re spending time with someone, smiling at them is immediate feedback to them. It can say that you’re having a good time, that you’re happy to be with who you are, and so much more. Making sure to smile at your partner each and every day can be just as supportive of your relationship as other more involved actions, like giving flowers or gifts.
Smiling is the same as any skill in the sense that, if you focus on it, you can enhance it. There are some things that you can do and ideas you can consider to bring more joy into your life, and therefore, more smiles. Here are a few ideas that may be able to increase your opportunities for both conscious and unconscious smiling.
- Surround yourself with pictures of things that make you smile.
We have a lot of options on how we can customize our screens these days, like our phones, computers, iPads, etc. So, why not ensure that these images make us smile? Remind yourself of what brings you joy every time you look at a screen, whether it be a photo of that hilarious face your friend made, a breathtaking landscape from your last vacation, or a portrait of your grandchild.
- Fake it til you make it.
There’s a game in which one person lays their head on a person’s belly and then another person lays their head on that person’s belly and so on. The first person pretends to laugh, and then the second person, causing bellies to inflate and heads to bob up and down. Before you know it, everyone’s laughing in all sincerity. Smiling can work the same way. So, even if you’re not feeling it, give a smile a try and see what happens.
- Sign up for a daily mood-booster.
There are quite a few newsletters, texting services, or daily emails available whose focus is to make us smile. These can be fun since you never know what type of reminder you’ll receive. SmileTherapy.com and thedailysmile.com are a couple of options to start.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
And write in it often. What better way to smile than to think about and write about what makes us smile? It focuses our attention on what brings us joy. And writing about something that made you smile earlier in the day is certain to bring that smile back in remembering it.
- Let yourself cry.
For all of the benefits of smiling, allowing yourself to feel sad and cry is just as supportive of our overall health. In fact, releasing those negative feelings will only help make your smile bigger when you are feeling better.
However you find ways to make yourself smile, the important thing is that you smile. If you or your company is exploring more ways to increase your overall happiness level, let us help you find your smile. Contact us at info@DavidCouperConsulting.com for more information.
Wishing all of you a wonderful Smile Power Day - June 15!
Melissa Schoenecker is a freelance writer and co-creator of the universe based in Venice, California. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Master's Degree from the University of Santa Monica. She contributes to a number of blogs and online postings, but her best work can be found in her gratitude journal.