Do you like to smile or enjoy seeing others smile? Of course, you do. Smiles are one of the best parts of the human experience. It’s the healthiest infection we know.
I’ve spent many years thinking about and reading books regarding kindness, compassion, and gratitude. Yet, what I always seem to come back to is the simple act of smiling.
Let’s start with some basics. What is a smile? Smiling is the behavior where the corners of our mouth curl up, triggering the sensation of joy, a fluttering heart, or peace, but it's so much more.
The act of smiling and laughter has been researched for centuries. A French scientist, Duchenne, coined the Duchenne Smile, which means using our eyes and mouth to show a genuine smile.
Although more recent research indicates that smiling doesn't always have to do with inner joy or peace, it is often related to external social cues to connect and engage with others.
Either way, it yields some pretty incredible benefits. Let’s list a few:
- Reduce Stress: Smiling combats stress with the release of endorphins. Even fake smiles have been seen to reduce anxiety and heart rate.
- Healthier Lives: Smiling may help you live longer and makes you significantly less likely to die of heart disease or infection, as found in a longitudinal study out of Norway (Rodriguez, 2016).
- Spread Joy: Smiling is contagious. When one person smiles, the reward centers in the brain go off, and others cannot help to smile.
- Happiness: When you smile, you create more pleasure in the brain than chocolate. Ron Gutman said that one smile might be equivalent to 2,000 bars of chocolate. Now, that is my dream come true!
- Kindness: Smiling can help you appear to be kind, making you more socially attractive.
There are so many positive effects to smiling; why not give it a try? In times like now (where we are trying to navigate a post-COVID world), wouldn’t it be nice to smile as often as we can?
Give your brain a break and feel the joy of 2,000 chocolate bars. I’m all in on smiling!
Challenge yourself to smile at least five times today. Then, try to smile at a stranger and let the contagion of smiling catch on!
With compassion, kindness, and mindful,
Co-Host of the Act To Live Podcast
Stay connected, receive our updates directly to your email.