We have all heard the song: “When you’re smiling” at some point in our lives.
“When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.
When you’re laughing, when you’re laughing, the sun comes shining through.”
The original artist was Louise Armstrong, but over the years, many different versions made their way onto the music scene.
No matter how catchy the tune is, the words of the song has a profound impact on our daily living.
This morning I overslept. Mysteriously, the alarm didn’t go off, which caused a chain reaction throughout the whole household. No time for breakfast, kids scurrying to get finished for school. No time for smiling here. In facts, all the rushing made everyone short tempered and grumpy! Only a few minutes late in leaving home, means being stuck longer in traffic, which left me all worked up and upset. As I was already late for dropping the kids at school, I opted to turn in by my favorite petrol station – because they have a Seattle Coffee Company. Thinking that coffee would just be the right thing to get my day on it’s tracks, I was sorely mistaken. It wasn’t the coffee that did the trick, it was the Barista behind the counter who made my day. There was probably 10 people standing in the que, all waiting for their order. Instead of being flustered and overwhelmed, he flashes everyone a dazzling smile that stuck there for the entire interaction. I couldn’t help but smile. In fact, I felt myself smiling the whole time I waited, smiled when I left and kept smiling through out my day.
Today’s lesson? It turns out that when you smile, the world smiles back.
Scientists and spiritual teachers alike agree that the simple act of smiling can transform you and the world around you. Current research (and common sense) shows us that a smile is contagious. It can make us appear more attractive to others. It lifts our mood, as well as the moods of those around us. And it can even lengthen our lives. So before you read on, slap a nice, genuine smile on that face of yours. You’ll thank me later.
How Smiling Affects Your Brain
Each time you smile, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness.
For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress. Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, or excited. The feel-good neurotransmitters — dopamine, endorphins and serotonin — are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well. This not only relaxes your body, but it can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
The endorphins also act as a natural pain reliever — 100-percent organic and without the potential negative side effects of synthetic concoctions.
Finally, the serotonin release brought on by your smile serves as an anti-depressant/mood lifter. With a smile, you again don’t have to worry about negative side effects — and you don’t need a prescription from your doctor.
How Smiling Affects Your Body
You’re actually better-looking when you smile — and I’m not just trying to butter you up. When you smile, people treat you differently. You’re viewed as attractive, reliable, relaxed, and sincere. When you view a person smiling, you actually feel rewarded.
Both men and women were more attracted to images of people who made eye contact and smiled than those who did not. If you don’t believe me, see how many looks you get when you walk outside with that smile you’re wearing right now. (You’re still smiling like I asked, right?)
How Smiling Affects Those Around You
Did you know that your smile is actually contagious? The part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression of smiling when happy or mimicking another’s smile resides in the cingulate cortex, an unconscious automatic response area.
In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of several emotions: joy, anger, fear, and surprise. When the picture of someone smiling was presented, the researchers asked the subjects to frown. Instead, they found that the facial expressions went directly to imitation of what subjects saw. It took conscious effort to turn that smile upside-down. So if you’re smiling at someone, it’s likely they can’t help but smile back. If they don’t, they’re making a conscious effort not to.
Looking at the bigger picture, each time you smile at a person, their brain coaxes them to return the favor. You are creating a symbiotic relationship that allows both of you to release feel-good chemicals in your brain, activate reward centers, make you both more attractive, and increase the chances of you both living longer, healthier lives.
My morning started as a complete mess. Anyone in my shoes would have been frowning by the time they hit work. We can’t always control what happens to us, but I am 100-percent confident that gracing your face with a grin can seriously change your internal and external experience. Your smile is something that should be worn often, so make it a priority to surround yourself with people, places, and things that brighten your day. Vow to be the positive, happy person in your group of friends. Watch funny movies often, and be sure to look people in the eye and show them your pearly whites. The world is simply a better place when you smile.
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