Smiling is good for you and good for others. We should all strive to smile more! Here’s why.
Feeling Down? Try Smile Therapy
A beautiful, genuine smile isn’t just nice to look at; it’s also a way of intentionally or unintentionally communicating everything from mood to self-confidence and more. A smile is always more than a smile.
Objectively, however, a smile is nothing more than a tightening and flexing of our zygomaticus major and orbicularis oculi muscles. These are the muscles around our mouth and eyes that are most activated when we smile. From a rational standpoint, that’s all there is to it. However, you and I both know that a smile is so much more than that. A smile can bring joy and happiness into your life. A smile can reassure someone in doubt, cheer someone up who is down, or even convey attraction to someone you’re interested in.
A smile is always more than a smile, and while to scientists a smile may be nothing more than flexing and relaxing of specific facial muscles, we know that smiles are powerful.
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Brushing your teeth is the cornerstone of a healthy dental hygiene routine. We have been taught, told, and exhorted to brush our teeth from the emergence of our very first tooth.
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While we are all aware of the effect a smile can have on us and others, there is also a large body of hard scientific evidence that hints at the power of such a seemingly simple facial expression. Studies show that a smile even when it is forced can make people feel calmer, more positive, and happier in general.
A study found that subjects who held a pencil in their mouths in a way to artificially induced their mouths to form a smile found cartoons to be funnier than those whose mouths were artificially formed into a frown. Another study that replaced pencils with chopsticks found that subjects who were “forced” to smile bounced back much more quickly than other subjects from stressful events. For example, test subjects were instructed to dunk their hands into a bucket of cold water. The heart rates of smiling patients returned to normal faster than those with a neutral expression. More importantly, the study found that subjects who displayed a Duchenne smile, or a so-called genuine smile, performed better than everyone else when it came to dealing with stress.
Smiling is good for you and others. We should all strive to smile more in life.
Following are my six reasons why:
Chronic stress is one of the primary drivers or potential triggers for many important health problems including obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, asthma, and arthritis. That’s because chronic stress usually elevates the amount of cortisol and other stress hormones in the body.
Smiling, even when it is forced, can help relieve stress. This is what some have come to call “smile therapy.” Simply smiling may push you into a more positive frame of mind and reappraise difficult situations. Researchers have found that smiling can provide relief for brief, acute stressors and help overcome passing negative moods. This is likely the result of lower blood pressure and a steadier heart rate. Next time you feel your heart rate increasing or your blood pressure rising as a result of a stressful situation, try smiling to bring them both under control.
Time and time again survey respondents rate a person’s smile as one of the top features they notice in a potential partner. It’s relatively straightforward if you want success in the dating scene, smile more. That’s no surprise. Smiling is a great way to communicate with others not only your mood but also your wellbeing and self-confidence. People find health and confidence to be desirable. Researchers have found that smiling can make you look more attractive than another person who is a healthy weight, or even someone wearing makeup.
The act of smiling, whether genuine or not, causes the body to release powerful oxytocin and other mood-enhancing chemicals. Not only that, but smiling also causes your brain to release stress-fighting neuropeptides and other feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. Your body produces its very own mood-altering drugs, and all it takes is a smile!
Smiling also affects those around you too. That’s because people care naturally. We all pick-up on facial expressions which often results in an emotional response --- a frown, a smile, or even a tear. Smiling tells others that things are going to be okay, and that positivity is quite contagious.
Be careful whom you smile at because you might infect them with positivity and good emotions! Smiles are the primary vector for what some researchers have termed emotional contagions. Feeling truly good is infectious. When you’re happy, people can tell, and your happiness often makes other people feel happier. Likewise, if you’re down, that depressed emotional state can also be transmitted to others. When someone smiles at us, we are more inclined to smile back. What this means is that every time you smile at someone else you aren’t just sending them a message about your wellbeing, you are also promoting their wellbeing as well.
A great smile can make you more attractive, more likable, and, as a result, more successful in life. While this may seem like an overstatement, there is evidence to back up the notion that a great smile might be able to get you a job, land you a promotion, or otherwise help you get to where you want to go in life.
In business psychology, there is something called the “halo effect.” The halo effect, coined by American psychologist Edward Thorndike, describes the phenomenon of when people attribute one positive aspect to you, they will often attribute many more that have nothing to do with that first positive aspect. This phenomenon can be most readily observed in the car industry where a car maker or manufacturer creates a “halo car.” Consumers positive impressions of the halo car would then also be attributed to other models in a manufacturers lineup. Car makers will often even implement design innovations and visual cues pioneered in their halo car across all their models to remind consumers of their original halo concept. The same idea applies to your smile. When people see someone with a beautiful smile, they tend to attribute other positive characteristics to that person as well, such as good health, good taste, and even youth.
A smile can have a positive effect on our relationships. But a smile can also make your pets show you more affection. According to a study by the University of Helsinki and published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, dogs release more oxytocin when they see the face of a smiling human. The emotional response is so strong that it may cause dogs to ignore the potential danger to see your smiling face. If that does not show love, then I don’t know what does.
All it takes is a big, genuine smile to look and feel healthier and sexier. The best part is, the more you smile, the better you’ll feel.
DR. REZA KHAZAIE