It is a well known fact that a smile makes people feel warm and welcomed. However, there are lots of other positive effects associated with smiling which many people are unaware of.
Smiling doesn’t just benefit you on the inside. It also works to your advantage from the outside. A study from Penn State University found that people who smile appear to be more likeable, courteous. and even competent. This is reason enough to smile at every person you want to connect with. Lifting your facial muscles into a smile is also contagious; if you smile and they smile, everyone in the room becomes a little happier. Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden concluded that frowning when looking at someone smiling is possible, but would be very difficult.
When you smile, your brain is aware of the activity and actually keeps track of it. The more you smile, the more effective you are at breaking the brain’s natural tendency to think negatively. If you smile often enough, you end up rewiring your brain to make positive patterns more often than it does negative ones.
Here are some key facts about smiling which you may not already know, in the hope that it will encourage more people around the world to smile.
1. Smiling lowers stress
When a person is smiling, it affects certain muscles within the body that make you feel happy. The movement of muscles in your face releases chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive feeling. These endorphins lower stress levels, which improves your mood. Even if you are not feeling happy, endorphins will trick your body to think that you are. So, the more you smile and stimulate your brain to release this chemical, the happier you will feel.
2. Smiling reduces pain
Another advantage of the ‘feel good’ endorphins that are created by smiling, is that they act as a natural pain killer. When endorphins are released into the body, they interact with receptors in the brain and lessen our perception of pain – making us feel a lot better. Another good reason to smile!
3. Smiling helps your heart
The release of endorphins through smiling also increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure. This means that you can lower your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems – just by cracking a smile. Endorphins have many great health benefits and a simple smile will have you feeling good on the outside, as well as the inside.
4. Smiling boosts your immune system
Laughing and smiling also encourages the release of serotonin. Like endorphins, serotonin is a neurotransmitter which contributes to a person’s happiness and wellbeing. Serotonin has many positive benefits; one of which is boosting the immune system. So, laughter and smiling really is the best type of medicine.
5. Smiling increases longevity
Smiling doesn’t just make you look younger and more approachable; it can also add years to your lifespan. Studies have shown that a happy disposition can have a powerful impact on a person’s health, as well as their life expectancy. So, the secret to a longer life could be as simple as breaking into smile.
6. Smiling boosts productivity
Smiling has the ability to change your brain. And if you smile regularly, it can change the brain’s patterns to think more positively. This change toward positive thinking leads to higher productivity and achievement.
7. Smiling makes you look younger and more attractive
The Max Planck Institute in Berlin conducted a study that showed smiling makes people look younger. The study had participants look at 171 faces with different facial expressions—smiling, disgusted, sad, angry, fearful, and neutral. The results showed that people were most likely to underestimate a person’s age when looking at the picture of them smiling.
Have a laugh
Choose to spend time with people who make you happier, and aim to take yourself less seriously. When you master this habit of smiling, you can have a terrible day and still find a way to smile about all the blessings you have in life. That’s when you’re onto something powerful.
For example, you can always smile that you have food to eat, a bed to sleep in, and air to breathe. Smile that you have friends or family members who care about you. Smile just because you’re alive: ironically, you’ll probably live longer by doing it.
Things to make you happy: try something new such as a dance class or choir, spend time with children, tell jokes, look through old photos, listen to or watch comedy programmes, and count your blessings.
Whether we giggle, chortle, chuckle, or guffaw, everyone laughs. Smiling, a natural part of laughing, is a universal indication of happiness or pleasure across all cultures, according to psychologist Paul Ekman. When we smile, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness. Interestingly enough, this effect works both ways: the release of dopamine when we feel happy causes us to smile, and the mere act of smiling causes the brain to release dopamine, which in turn makes us feel happy.
The results of many scientific studies on the effects of laughter have led most experts to agree that laughter can be remarkably therapeutic. For example, laughter and humour have been shown to increase tolerance to pain. Additionally, researchers in Japan have found that laughter lowered blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes by altering gene expression. Even more exciting are the findings on the cardiovascular benefits of mirthful laughter. In a recent study by researchers at the University of Maryland, researchers found that endorphins released by the brain in response to laughter cause the production of nitric oxide (NO), which then triggers a number of cardio-protective signaling processes responsible for not only vasodilation but also for reducing platelet aggregation and vascular inflammation. Plenty of science there to make you smile.
And remember according to the proverb “All people smile in the same language.”