What's so great about smiling?
Smiling is one of the quickest, easiest, cheapest, and most effective self-improvement strategies there is. And you already know how to do it.
Let’s look at some of the reasons to smile:
“A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks almost instantly.” Anonymous
A smile makes you more attractive to the world around you. You appear friendly and open. People will be more likely to pay attention to you, believe you, take your advice, or buy what you are selling.
Smiling is more than putting on a forced grin, it involves the whole face and a brightening of the eyes. Try it.
Did you know...? The ability to smile is hard-wired, you didn’t need to learn how. All babies, even those born blind and deaf, smile. We begin smiling in the womb, and we begin laughing by 10 weeks. A typical four-year-old smiles and laughs once every 4 minutes, or about 400 times a day. By the time we’re adults that number plummets to only about 15-20 times a day. Isn’t that sad?! We lose our sense of humor and the freedom to laugh.
As we “grow up” we’re told to “get serious” which we equate with being solemn and humorless. We’re told to “wipe that smile off your face” and that this is “no laughing matter.” We may be aging ourselves… seriously.
Research has shown that changing our facial expression sets off physiological changes and triggers emotional responses that can actually change our mood. A smile produces pleasant feelings. A pout produces feelings of unhappiness.
Even when you don’t feel particularly cheerful, if you smile, blood flow to the brain increases and positive neurotransmitters are produced. Smiling tells your brain that things are, “okay.” Smiling actually makes you feel better.
One of the best reasons for smiling and laughing is for your health. As Mary Pettibone Poole put it, “He who laughs, lasts.” Smiling and laughter relieve stress and strengthen your immune system, increasing your body’s ability to fight off illness - everything from the common cold to cancer.
Smiling and laughing can be considered a form of exercise. Smiling exercises our facial muscles. A hearty laugh gives the muscles of the face, shoulders, diaphragm, and abdomen a good workout.
When we laugh, our blood pressure and heart rate temporarily go up and then remain lower. Oxygen surges throughout our bloodstream. We stretch our lungs, relax our chests, and breathe easier. Laughter is good for the heart. Studies show that people who cope with stress in their lives with a sense of humor are less likely to suffer from heart disease; and people recovering from heart surgery do better with a positive outlook.
Laughing and smiling cause the release of neurohormones called endorphins, which act as pain reducers and give you a high level of alertness. A genuine smile increases the production of serotonin, the happy hormone. It is hard to be grumpy when you’re smiling and laughing.
Smiling is not only beneficial to the person who is smiling but to everyone around. If you walk around looking angry, you’ll feel that way and make others feel that way too. But, it’s hard not to respond positively to someone who is smiling. We naturally mirror the expressions of others.
“A smile is the shortest distance between two people.” Victor Borge
Smiling builds bridges to the people around us. It keeps us from being aloof and separate from one another, it connects us. Babies as young as 3 weeks old recognize smiling as bonding behavior. Every culture practices smiling, it is a universal language and it’s absolutely free.
The Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch is credited with saying,
“A smile costs nothing, but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it. A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and is nature’s best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no value to anyone until it is given away.”
Share your smile with everyone you meet. When someone smiles at you, pass it on.