Until very recently, it seemed obvious that we only smile because we are happy. It made no sense to smile unless there was something to smile about. Scientists, however, have revealed the science of smiling that proves otherwise. Here’s the short version. When we experience a pleasant sensation, our brains send neuronal signals from the cortex to the brainstem and further on to the muscles in our faces that activate smiling. It doesn’t end there though. Once the smiling muscles in our faces begin to contract, they send positive feedback to the brain which reinforces the feeling of joy or pleasure that we’re experiencing.
Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
― Thich Nhat Hanh
This is the key here because it follows then, that the simple act of smiling, with or without reason, induces a feeling of happiness that has been compared to getting a good night’s sleep (and everyone who’s gone to bed tired and woken up tired, knows the value of a good night’s sleep). The simple act of a smile reduces stress hormones in our bodies such as cortisol and adrenaline that negatively affect our physical and mental health.
Read Also: 7 Great benefits of Music to your Mind, Body and Soul
In his TED Talk, Ron Gutman speaks about his research on the lives of people based on their old yearbook photos. He found that those who had beaming smiles went on to live happier and more fulfilling lives than those who didn’t smile. It is true that laughter is the best medicine, and Ron Gutman adds that smiling not only makes us look attractive to other people, it also makes us look competent. So go on, smile at your interview and at the workplace. It is almost physically impossible for someone to frown while looking at another person smiling. So yes, smiling does make you look approachable and could be the key to meeting new people with ease. So now that we know that, here are a few ideas on what to do to smile more.
- Breathe in deeply
- Read a book or read to someone
- Take a nap
- Make a nice meal for yourself or for a loved one
- Play with a child
- Check on an old friend
- Smile at yourself in the mirror
- Go for a jog or a long drive
- Dance to your favourite music
- Watch cat videos or go on and adopt a pet