Smiling is one of the simplest human reactions. We are born with the ability to smile, yet as we age, we smile less often. As adults living busy lives with a great deal of pressure coming from many directions, it is these simple things that actually make a big difference to our outlook on life, but are also often forgotten, writes Jenny Boymal, director of Project Optimism
Smiling can be a conscious, intentional choice. It appears that whether your smile is genuine or not, it can act on your body and mind in a variety of positive ways, offering benefits for your health, your mood, and even the moods of people around you.
Why you should smile
Smiles are powerful. Not only do they generate engagement between two people, but the more someone smiles, the healthier his/her brain can be.
Just for a second, imagine…
Imagine you are going for a walk down the street. You smile and greet the people you pass. How does that make you feel? How does it make them feel?
Smiling is great! But why do it? Is there really a benefit?
Smiling actually has scientific health benefits.
The benefits of smiling
Smiling not only offers a mood boost but helps our bodies release dopamine, serotonin and endorphins that provide numerous health benefits, including:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Increased endurance
- Reduced pain
- Reduced stress
- Strengthened immune system
Studies show that people who smile appear more likeable, courteous and competent.
There’s been some evidence that forcing a smile can still bring you a boost in your mood and happiness level. It turns out the benefits of smiling aren’t just limited to yourself — it can also affect those around you too. We’ve already talked about how our brains react when we smile, but we’re also rewarded when we see someone else smile too! The reward centre of our brain is activated and it makes us feel a little better. Plus, one Swedish study suggests that we can’t help but react with a smile of our own when we see someone smiling — so it’s an all-out infectious loop of happiness.
How you can smile more
Is happiness the underpinning of optimism or is optimism an underpinning of happiness? It doesn’t matter – we know happier people tend to be more optimistic. And we know, optimistic people tend to be happier.
Some easy steps to smile more:
- Smile the moment you wake up
- Remind yourself in the morning that you are going to smile more today
- Think about a situation or event that brings you joy
- Practice smiling in the mirror
- Smile at everyone you see
- Become comfortable with smiling and recognise the benefits that smiling brings you
So remember, smiling has many positive health and mindset benefits for you and others around you!
For further information, you are welcome to explore some materials from Project Optimism and the Habits of an Optimist Course.
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