The Truth Behind the Most Powerful Human Gesture: Smiling
By: Susanna Newsonen |
When was the last time you shared your big, powerful, authentic smile with someone else? Hopefully you’ll say today! Smiling is a universally recognised gesture which fires up positive vibes not only in the person who is smiling but also in the people who see the smile. There’s a whole science behind the incredibly powerful act of smiling which is often forgotten about. I hope that reading this post will encourage and help you to burst out your smiles every opportunity you can.
Image by Mateus Andre
Let’s start by having a look at what research has said about smiling so far.
- A smile triggers your brain’s reward mechanism in a way that not even chocolate can, with some research suggesting you’ll get more pleasure from smiling than from eating 2,000 bars of chocolate.
- A smile can induce so many positive emotions that it is the equivalent feeling of receiving £16 000 in cash.
- Smiling results in the production of endorphins, or happy hormones, just like exercise does. This also creates a full on positivity spiral. Basically, when you smile you tell your brain it feels good, and when your brain feels good it tells you to smile even more.
- Smiling brings numerous health benefits, such as reducing your anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and lowering your heart rate. Research has suggested smiling reduces your bodily and mental stress like a good night’s sleep does.
- Children smile 400 times a day on average, making you often feel happier around children. Happy adults smile 40-50 times a day, but on average most of us smile only 20 times.
- Smiling is contagious! Seeing someone smile will make you want to smile as well as your mirror neurones in the brain will want to reciprocate the same gesture. Numerous pieces of research have shown that it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to keep a sad or grumpy face if you’re looking at people who are sharing their genuine smiles with you.
Isn’t that enough to make a case for smiling? I think so! The great news is that smiling can also be re-learnt so that you are able to produce more genuine smiles more often in your day. The more you do it, the more natural it will become, and the happier you will feel, and the more positive vibes you will send around you.
So how do you practice smiling? The key is getting started. Below are three simple things which will help.
- Think of someone you love and you can feel a genuine smile come through. You could reminisce about a happy experience you had together to get the good vibes going.
- Practice smiling in front of a mirror. This might sound silly but the more comfortable you become with your smile and the act of smiling, the easier and more natural it becomes. This is where your eyes play a big part as in a genuine smile, also known as the Duchenne Smile, you also smile with your eyes as the muscles around your eyes are activated. Practice smiling with a paper on front of your mouth and you’ll learn the difference. Try smiling only with your eyes and you’ll learn to feel the difference between a fake and a genuine smile.
- Find little things to smile about, be it to the person who hands you your Starbucks coffee or enjoying the feeling of a nice, warm shower. Every time you feel grateful about something or thank someone, allow yourself to smile.
With practice you’ll notice how smiling will start to affect you and those around you positively. Learn to smile before you write an email, or pick up the phone, and you will find people can sense that smile right away. So start spreading that positivity right away!
Now I would love to hear from you. What helps you smile, or feel more comfortable about smiling? Comment below with your thoughts, the other Happyologist readers would appreciate your insights and experiences!
If you enjoyed this post, please like it, tweet it, pin it, share it – and spread those smiles around! You might also enjoy my previous post on 5 quotes on the power of smiles. Remember to sign-up to my free weekly newsletter below to be the first to find out about exclusive offers on coaching, workshops & talks, as well as extra tips on happiness!
I wish you amazing adventures & until next week!