The incredible benefits a simple smile can bring in our life are mostly well-known, yet hanging around, there is a huge amount of people who don’t do it frequently or at all! Did you look at people while going to work this morning? How many of them smiled back at you? Just because you smiled at them, right?
My studies and previous experiences brought me to love the way a smile (as well as hugs!) is absolutely a straightforward form of communication. It goes beyond borders, beyond cultural and linguistical barriers. Smiling it’s free and doesn’t require time, skills or efforts. Slightly lift up your mouth and you’ll be sure people will recognize that as a smile on your face.
According to several studies, it’s difficult to frown if someone is smiling at you. Why? Because the area of our brain that’s responsible for the act of smiling resides in the cingulate cortex, an unconscious automatic response area. Hence, when we think about something that makes us happy or when seeing someone giggling, we can help but smile!
I got lucky enough to experience for myself the power of a happy face. Having worked for many years with people, I learned that a smile is comparable to black in fashion: it does go with everything!
I remember plenty of episodes where just a recurring grin to an arrogant guest has yielded to a kinder (and confused) one, or the uncountable times a customer blasted in a “Oh, such a nice smile” when welcomed in such way. Smiling makes people feeling welcome, hence more benevolent towards you!
Charles Darwin, besides its famous evolutionist theory, has studied the short-term reactions of a smile on our brain and found out that even when faked a grin sends a positive message to our brain. The muscles involved are the same of one, so our brain responds to it thinking that must be happiness. And happiness, on the other hand, has been shown to boost our body’s resistance and immune system.
This research from University of Kansas demonstrates how smiling has the ability to lower the heart rate in stressful situations while helping to reduce the blood pressure. According to these other studies a simple smile has the power of 2000 chocolate bar (a well-regarded mood booster) in terms of endorphins and serotonin released.
Another study reported by Psychology Today looked at the smiles of Major League Baseball players in trading cards for the 1952 season. It then analyzed the correlation between those and longevity and found out that baseball players who didn’t smile at all lived an average of 72 years. Those who slightly smiled lived an average of 75 years. But the players with genuine, broad smiles lived an average of 80 years. Whoa, even better than green tea!
“Smile in the mirror. Do that every morning and you’ll start to see a big difference in your life.” Yoko Ono
When you smile, you’ll look polite, confident and more likable, while sending a positive message that is perceived by others. This kind of interactions, more often than not, will lead to a more cooperational, positive and conflict-free environment.
Noone’s life is easy, and in tough situations, smiling can be truly difficult. Yet, probably there is no better time to smile than that! It will make you happier, it’ll help you to distress and it may offer another point of view. A different perspective.
So, go looks for things that make you smile. Do what brings you joy and connect with that joy. Commit yourself to smile even when things go wrong. Smile to yourself and smile at others.
Here’s some of the benefits, I’ll challenge to chuckle at every point!
Makes us more attractive
Changes our mood
Makes those around us happier
Boosts our immune system
Lowers blood pressure
Makes us feel good by releasing endorphins, natural pain killers and serotonin
Makes us look younger
Makes us appear more confident and successful
Helps us stay positive
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