The power of a smile can be transformative. Leonardo da Vinci's painting The Mona Lisa is a testament to this fact; the world's most famous smile has engaged and inspired viewers for over 500 years.
A smile can lift our spirits, give us hope, give us confidence, pique our curiosity, and it can fill us with joy. When we are on the receiving end of a smile we feel accepted and connected . When we smile we are doing something that connects us to other people, we are tapping into something larger than just ourselves.
Smiling is the universal facial expression generally equated to happiness that has the power to change one's disposition and make a hum drum day all of a sudden a great day. For most of us it is such a simple gesture to make, but the benefits for the smiler and the "smilee" ( i.e. the one receiving the smile) are potentially great.
Smiling and Your Brain
When you smile you are changing the chemistry of your brain. Smiling activates areas of the brain that lead to increased levels of the "feel good" hormones dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, and decreased levels in the stress hormone cortisol. The result is lower levels of anxiety and stress, a better mood, and potentially lower heart rate and blood pressure. Each time we smile we put this chemical reaction into play and our brain rewards us by making us feel happy giving way to more positive thought patterns. Smiling more can help "rewire" your brain towards a more positive disposition and healthier thoughts. As with exercise, a habit of smiling comes with compound benefits many of which are underestimated.
The Benefits of Smiling
In addition to the health benefits of smiling referred to above, there are social benefits that come to those who smile freely. Research has shown that those who smile are often seen as being more confident, more reliable, more approachable, more attractive and more competent when they smile. These qualities have obvious benefits when interacting with others. People generally like to be around happy people and smiling has a way of attracting happiness. Not only do you make yourself happy when smiling but you make someone else happy too. Smiling is contagious and it is hard not to smile when confronted with a smiling face. There is a lot going on in a smile. As Mother Theresa once said " We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do."
How To Set Yourself Up To Smile More
The beauty about smiling is that it triggers immediate results. The mere act of having the muscles in your face create a smile triggers the feel good chemical reaction in your brain. You can set yourself up to reap the benefits of smiling by creating your environment so that you are smiling more often. How do you do this ?. Plan to smile. Be intentional about smiling. Keep framed photographs of smiling relatives and friends in your home and surround yourself with the people, activities and things that lift your spirits and make you smile. Because when you smile the whole world smiles with you.