“Everyone smile and say cheese!”
Ah, the dreaded school photograph. I don’t know about you, but I could never smile for my school photographs unless my mom threatened to keep my in school forever if I didn’t.
I was the same throughout my teenage years. I was sullen, moody and always pouted for the cameras. Looking back through my photos now, I have to wonder if I ever smiled when I was younger!
I had no reason not to smile. After all, I had my youth, my friends, my family, my health … I had every reason to be happy and to smile more often.
Yet I walked around with a frown, as though life sucked and would never get any better. What was wrong with me?!
I think it’s the same for a lot of us. We just don’t smile enough. Ask yourself how often you smile each day. Once? Twice? Maybe half a dozen times if you watch a comedy or someone falls over in the mall?
The thing is, though, smiling is actually REALLY good for you. It might sound radical, but the more you smile, the more positive and happier you actually feel.
I smile as much as I can now. I know that smiling instantly boosts my mood and lifts my spirits. Try it! Knock on your neighbour’s door and greet them with a smile. I bet you already feel at least 20% better than you did before you smiled. Maybe even 22% if you’re lucky.
So in celebration of the smile, here are 10 scientific reasons why smiling is good for you.
Smiling Makes You Happier
Okay, if you decided you were gonna be stubborn just then and didn’t smile when I asked you to, how about you give me a smile this time? Come on, give me a big grin from ear to ear. You can do it! You don’t need to pop next door to see your neighbour. Just stay where you are and smile.
You feel happier, right?
Look, there is no way anyone can smile and not feel happier. It just isn’tscientifically possible.
Your facial expressions influence your feelings. If you walk around with a perpetual frown, you will feel negative. Walk around with a smile, however, and you will start to feel happier. That’s just the way it is!
Smiling Boosts Creativity
Want to be more creative? Smile more! It helps.
According to a study carried out by the University of California, the happier we are, the more creative we are.
It makes sense, right? If you feel down in the dumps, the last thing you want to do is create something.
Smiling Reduces Anxiety
Anxiety is a common problem that afflicts many millions of people around the world. Because it’s a mental health problem, other people cannot see it. Not even the sufferer can see it.
But, boy, can they feel it.
The problem is that sometimes uncaring friends will tell us to “snap out of it” and “get a grip.” It’s not entirely their fault – they just can’t empathise with what we’re going through.
While such ‘advice’ is reckless, there is actually a really simply solution that can reduce symptoms of anxiety – smiling.
Don’t believe me? If you suffer with anxiety, let yourself smile more often. Listen to your favourite music with a big fat Cheshire Cat grin on your face. Go for walks and smile. Cook dinner and smile.
See what happens. I guarantee it will help (I know – I’ve been there).
Your Smiles Makes Other People Happy
Louis Armstrong once sang, “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.”
Okay, Louis wasn’t a scientist, but c’mon. It’s Louis!
(and, yes, studies have backed him up. Smiling is very infectious)
Smiling Boosts Attractiveness
Just think back to the dating site profiles you browses. Were you more attracted to guys who flashed their teeth? Or did you prefer the menacing ones who looked like they were posing for a picture before killing their mom?
Smiling Makes People Trust You
Okay, there is such a thing as a “sly” smile that nobody in their right mind would trust. But someone who is genuinely smiling because they’re happy and positive is much more trustworthy than those who don’t smile.
You don’t need to take my word on this. According to a study carried out by the University of Pittsburgh, researchers examined the relationship between a smile and trust. According to the results, we are much more likely to trust someone who smiles more.
I’m gonna guess that this is because smiley people appear to us as warm, friendly and affectionate people. And why wouldn’t we trust such folk?
Good Leaders Smile
It’s natural to want to work harder for a leader who smiles than a leader who scowls and throws pens at your head.
All leaders are tough people who know when to be ruthless. But the good ones know the value and power of smiling. It infects their staff and keeps people motivated.
Smiling Can Retrain Your Brain To Be More Positive
Science backs this one up, but I also know from personal experience how smiling can help to retrain our brain to be more positive.
A year ago, I was in a total rut. I felt blue all the time, and couldn’t seem to pick myself up. My life had hit a brick wall, and I couldn’t scale it. I was stranded and felt loss.
I was constantly negative, and honestly thought that I would never recover. There didn’t seem to be any glimmers of hope.
Eventually, I got out of the rut. I learned that – thankfully – our behaviours can be changed, and that it is possible to swap one mindset and one habit for another. The key is that you convince your brain it has to change by adopting new patterns of behaviour and habits.
One of the habits I started to adopt was smiling. I started to smile more often, something I had rarely done before.
Over time, my smiling took me to a more positive space. Instead of always assuming the worst of things, I started to assume the best. I retrained my brain.
And you can, too.
Smiling Boosts Your Immune System
Studies have demonstrated that smiling positively impacts your immune system. So if you want to stay physically as well as mentally healthy, you gotta keep grinning!
Smiling Can Reduce Stress
Feeling overwhelmed by things? Smiling more often can help.
Take a few deep breaths. Then smile. It’s intoxicating, calms you down, and reminds you that, actually, things are not so bad after all.