Do you smile often? Do you smile at all? If not, you are missing out on something good in life. Did you know even a forced smile brings amazing benefits to you? Let's look closer at this thing everyone can do almost anytime and anywhere.
The subject of smiling came to me recently when I read the following quote:
"Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles. What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for each other? George Eliot (1819-1880)
When I read it, I smiled, especially knowing the background of its author. One of the leading writers of the Victorian era, a novelist, poet, translator, and journalist, she was known for writing with great realism and psychological insight. Yes, George was a she! Mary Ann Evans wrote under the pen name of George Eliot!
Women in the Victorian era were stereotyped as writing lighthearted romance and were not taken seriously. Evans used the fictitious name George Eliot because she wanted her work held to the same standard and as highly regarded as any man's work at the time.
More than a century later, Evans's words in the above quote resonate with most of us because we know it is good to smile. And smiling people do "make the world less difficult for each other."
How smiling affects you
Try something with me for a few seconds. You may want to do this when no one is around; otherwise, you may get some strange looks. But then again, they will likely smile back at you! Do this:
S M I L E
Yes, even if you must force a smile, hold it as long as you can. What do you notice? If you are like most people, it affects your mood, making you feel better. Why would simply forcing a smile on your face make you feel better?
When you smile, your brain releases neurotransmitters called neuropeptides. A few of the specific neuropeptides released include dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. Simply putting a smile on your face, regardless of how you feel, releases these neuropeptides, affecting your brain chemistry and, therefore, your mood!
Anytime you feel negative or down about something, give it a try. Smile, and you will quickly feel its effect. Something I find interesting about our smiling is when we smile at others, they usually respond with a smile. Therefore, they also benefit from the neuropeptides released in their brains. What's not to like about that?
Who would you rather be around, someone with a smile on their face who is happy, or someone with a frown on their face and sad? Why?
The effect of smiling on the body and other people was known many years before the discipline of neuroscience came into being. The old idiom "smile and the world smiles with you" is true. This was recognized nearly a century ago when Seger Ellis released the first version of the song "When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)" in 1928. Louis Armstrong added to the song's popularity by recording his version the following year. Since then, dozens of famous singers have done their version, although most leave out some original words.
A well-known fact about smiling I find interesting is children smile an average of 400 times each day, while the typical adult smiles 20 times! Even the average happy adult only smiles about 40-50 times a day. No wonder most children are so much happier than adults!
Why not learn to smile more often for its benefits?
Are there more benefits to smiling than feeling good and perhaps acting younger? You bet! Here is a list of a few of them. Smiling more often:
- Improves health
- Reduces stress
- Helps you feel better
- Reduces pain
- Increases endurance
- Relieves anxiety
- Reduces depression
- Elevates your mood
- Reduces your blood pressure
- Reduces risk of heart disease
- Boosts your immune system
- Helps you live longer
- Helps others feel rewarded
- Gives you greater happiness
- Makes people smile back as smiling is contagious
- Makes people treat you differently
- Improves relationships
- Makes you more attractive
- Helps you stay positive
- Helps you enjoy life more
- Makes the world a better place!
How can you get on the road to start gaining these benefits?
Why not watch that comedy, listen to those funny jokes, and anytime you begin to feel down, smile. Find something to view that will put a smile on your face. Listen to a good comedian. Do a google search for funny videos and great one-liners. Today, we have more options to find something that can make us laugh or smile than ever in history, so smile a little!
We each get only one shot at this life. Why not make it a good one? Choose to smile more. Choose to "make the world less difficult for each other?" Choose the amazing benefits that come with smiling. If you want to take it up a notch, try laughing! Laughter is the best medicine, after all! Remember the wisdom in these words from 3000 years ago:
"A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, But a broken spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22 AMP
A happy heart is a smiling heart. Remember, "When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you"!