What if I told you that there is something anyone can do (no, it’s not meditation, did I get you with that picture? ) which results in a host of benefits such as:
- Reducing stress
- Looking more attractive and youthful
- Enhancing mood
- Increasing productivity
- Encouraging trust
- Reducing pain
- Decreasing heart rate and blood pressure
- And a host of other benefits
Your first thought might be Bullsh*t . When I insist it’s true, you might ask, Is it legal? Yup, it sure is at least in most places to the best of my knowledge. You might become curious if it involves drugs. Yes! Yes it does! It involves the most powerful drugs known to man…. endorphins, those lovely neuropeptides that we create in our own body which make us feel good after exercise, sex or skydiving (if you’re into that kind of thing).
Endorphins also happen to be responsible for stress reduction, relaxation, decreased blood pressure and heart rate, reduced pain and a bunch of other benefits that you definitely want. In a nutshell, those benefits make you healthier, happier and help you live longer.
What is this one simple thing that anyone can do to receive all of these benefits legally, for free and without drugs?
A smile is universal and can be understood by anyone in any language. Smiling deepens our connection to others, even total strangers. And smiling is contagious. Unless you are dealing with the biggest of grouches, odds are pretty high that when you flash someone a smile, they’ll reciprocate. Smiling not only lifts your mood, but the mood of others as well and making others happy, makes us happy so this is a virtuous circle.
Smiling also instantly improves our looks. We get treated better when we smile. Studies have shown that when people smile, they’re rated as more attractive, likeable, sincere and even competent. Smiling tends to draw people towards us. Men are more likely to approach a woman who smiles at them than one who just makes eye contact.
Smiling makes us appear more confident and people are attracted to confidence. This doesn’t only help you in the dating world but can also make a difference in your career.
Smiling is involved with neuroplasticity (the brains ability to re-wire and change itself). You’ve heard about the power of positive thinking and repeating mantras or affirmations to become a more positive person. Smiling works in the same way. The more you smile, the more you rewire your brain towards optimism and the easier it is to bounce back from negative thinking.
Although genuine smiles will have the biggest effect, even faking a smile can get results. Years ago I started doing what I call smile therapy. I actually only call it that because that’s what it was called when I first heard of it. (I’d totally credit the source but I have zero recollection of where I came across it and now it’s widely used so googling didn’t help much in that department). Whenever I was feeling down, irritated or negative and I needed a quick attitude adjustment, I put on a huge sh*t eating grin. At first it felt super fake and kind of obnoxious, but after a few moments, I’d actually start feeling better and more positive.
This works because when your brain realizes you’re happy or enjoying yourself, it’ll naturally raise the corners of your mouth into a smile. It works the other way around too. If you raise the corners of your mouth your brain thinks you’re happy and releases the endorphins that go along with that mood. This actually applies to all of your body and posture, not just your face.
The moral of the story is: Smile! Smile when you’re happy, smile when you’re not but want to be, smile at your friends and loved ones, smile at strangers, smile at your dog, smile at your own reflection, and even if you think you have nothing to smile about (I get it, times are crazy right now) smile anyway, you’ll feel better and chances are if someone sees your smile, they’ll feel better too. If everyone smiled more, the world would be a happier and more peaceful place.
P.S. Laughter has many of these benefits as well so if you absolutely can’t find anything to smile about right now, find something to laugh about.