Smiling is an easy and inexpensive way to improve our health and wellness. Smiling is more than just an involuntary response to happiness or laughter. It’s also a mindful and powerful choice.
The choice to smile is a good one! Our brains naturally think in negative terms as a way to protect ourselves. They generally are at-the-ready to defend against threats. When we smile, we send a message to our brain that things are okay and safe.
Making smiling a habit creates a shift to a more positive space where we can stay longer. It encourages more positive patterns of thinking. And positive thinking helps us live longer.
Smiling strengthens our bodies on a cellular level. Biochemists explain that our cells distinguish between safety and danger, locate and repair problems, and work to create more balance. Our thoughts have a direct effect on cell function.
Smiles decrease the rigidity of our cells. This physical relaxation helps lower stress-related mutations that can lead to cancer. Smiling lifts our mood, as well as that of those around us. It leads to health and longevity, and has both short and long term effects on our health and wellness.
When we smile:
We feel good! Smiles act like a natural drug releasing brain chemicals that increase mood, relax our body and lower physical pain.
We appear more attractive to others. Smiling draws people in.
It’s contagious. Many people smile back automatically.
Stress is relieved and we appear less tired and overwhelmed.
We boost our immune system. White blood cells increase to help fight illness because we are more relaxed. Stress leads to illness. Relaxation leads to wellness.
Our blood pressure is lowered. Smiling helps us relax which lowers blood pressure.
We look younger. Muscles in our face lift giving off a more youthful appearance.
We appear successful. People who smile look more confident, are more approachable and are more likely to be promoted.
We stay more positive even when it feels forced or unnatural.
We produce our own anti-depressant. The act of smiling releases endorphins.
We become better leaders. A study at the University of Montpellier showed that smiling is more effective in leadership than having great management responsibilities.
The Smile Challenge: As support for a longer, healthier, happier and more pleasant life, the Smile Challenge dares us to consider a one-week smiling experiment. Scientists believe that even by forcing a natural smile we activate those facial muscles that connect to happiness and joy.
The “smile cue” is something we see or hear every day. Whenever we encounter or think of this cue, it’s a reminder to smile.
As added motivation, people who smile while talking make a better impression and are considered more friendly and confident.
Even subtle smiles increase mood. Take a deep breath when smiling to increase mood and relaxation.
Notice how you feel at the end of the week.
A 2013 study at the University of California, San Francisco found that smiling boosts productivity. This reminds me of a phrase I heard regularly growing up, “Happy workers are productive workers.” Positive emotions energize us, while negative emotions drain us. Smiling can make us more creative, increase our happiness, problem-solving, learning, processing and decision-making.
Smiling makes us more comfortable in awkward situations. It costs us nothing and we have access to a powerful happiness creator whenever we choose it. Why wouldn’t we choose to smile more?
As Elf says in my favorite Christmas movie, "Smiling's my favorite!"
Embrace a smile. Reap the benefits. Spread the joy.