This top 10 is just to hopefully show everyone that smiling does have a benefit. Oh yeah, did I mention that I have proof? In a 2008 study, as reported by ABC News, two universities researched and found substantial evidence that something as simple as a smiling face, or a picture of a puppy can elevate your mood enough to help you in many avenues of your life. I understand that most of you probably envision me walking around like a goober all day smiling…but sometimes its the act of smiling at someone as you walk by them that goes a long way. That smile may be the only act of kindness that they see or experience all day. So with that being said, I present to you the Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Reasons to Smile More –
10. Smiling helps people trust you more and brings people closer to you – Let’s do a quick test…you meet two new people of similar age, sex, socio-economic status. One of these people is smiling and one is not. I want you to honestly think about who would be the person that you would trust. The appearance of the Duchenne marker (which is the smile involving the contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle which raises the corner of the mouth and the orbicularis oculi which raises the cheeks and forms the beautiful crow’s feet around the eyes) and an overall increased intensity of expression have been successfully partnered with positive judgments of trustworthiness. But ultimately smiling brings you closer to people. You seem to be a more open person when you smile. You receive more positive responses when you smile. Just saying.
9. Smiling could help you make better decisions – According to the study which was published in the Journal of Consumer Research, thinking abstractly can help us to think clearer, and in turn make better decisions. This better mood, which is impacted by smiling, allows us to focus on the why, not the how; according to Aparna Labroo of the University of Chicago and Vanessa Patrick of the University of Georgia. “We argue that by signaling that a situation is benign (think happy face,) a positive mood allows people to distance themselves psychologically from the situation,” they said in their 2008 study. “Psychological distancing results in taking a broader perspective, or seeing the big picture,” leading to ‘higher level thinking’.
8. Smiling makes you happier – As I’ll speak about little later, happiness can be caused by smiling. Essentially smiling can boost your mood when you are feeling blue, and may be beneficial for people struggling with anxiety and depression. A 2010 study found that when you make yourself or are caused to smile when you’re feeling down, that your mood improves and it increases positive thoughts.
7. Smiling is contagious – I’ve always heard that you should smile because it is contagious. How many times have you seen someone smile and little or no reaction from the other person involved? Not a lot right? The reason why is because people smile, even if its just to be polite. Subconsciously when you smile, you are asking the other party involved to join in the happiness that you have. For that millisecond of time, you two are involved in an outpouring of joy. A spreading of love if you will.
6. Smiling makes us appear younger and more attractive – A study where the participants were shown a series of 45 photos of women with varying intensity in their smile were rated on how beautiful they were. Across the board, the women with the most intense smiles were rated as the most beautiful. EVEN THOUGH the 45 pictures were of the same 6 women. Another study presented ‘in the book Psychology and Aging found that facial expressions had a substantial impact on the accuracy and bias of someone’s age estimation. They based this information off of the findings of the study, which asked a diverse group of adults who judged the age of 171 faces of a similarly diverse group of adults. Even older men and women’s faces, which displayed happy expressions had their age well underestimated.
5. Smiling actually can help you become more successful – People who smile more, statistically think better, tackle new goals, and have more opportunities than those who do not. In the same study as I mentioned in number 9, the researchers said that “chronically happy people are, in general, more successful across the many life domains than less happy people, and their happiness is, in large part, a consequence of their positive emotions, rather than vice versa.” Author Sonja Lyubomirksy from the University of California, Riverside, said that “our review provides strong support that happiness, in many cases, leads to successful outcomes, rather than merely following from them.”
4 .Smiling elevates our mood and encourages mental health – I’ve talked a lot about putting on a smile when you’re feeling down. Smiling helps boost your mood, can increase your happiness, and as I’ve mentioned before can lower stress. Studies have proven that smiling activates certain areas of the brain that are associated with reward and triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This neurotransmitter controls the brain’s reward and pleasure center. This regulates movement and helps with our emotional responses.
3. Smiling boosts your immune system and lowers your blood pressure– Okay, so lets get technical. When you are smiling, your body releases more white blood cells than it usually does. What does that mean? The prime purposes of white blood cells are to protect the body against infectious diseases and anything that could invade the body. So smiling actually makes your body more immune to diseases, which keeps you healthier. Now as for your blood pressure, a 2015 study published in the Psychological Science magazine found that smiling results in a lower heart rate during stressful tasks.
2. Smiling relieves the negative affects of stress on the body – So I have mentioned stress a couple of times. Well its no secret that these two are side by side. Stress generally causes an increase in heart rate and therefore blood pressure. In the study I mentioned earlier where the participants judges the other participants facial expressions; the participants who were asked to smile or who smiled on their on had a substantially lower heart rate during stress recovery. All in all, these and all findings show that smiling has both physiological and psychological benefits.
- Smiling can cause pain relief – You’re probably going to try to call BS on this, but there has been many studies proving that laughter and yes even smiling releases your bodies own natural painkillers. In a 2012 study, the Mayo Clinic found that laughter increases your pain threshold, and thusly creates a higher pain tolerance. By laughing, this extra intake of oxygen-rich air stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles. This of course increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. These endorphins bind to the opioid receptors in your brain and thusly block the perception of pain. That’s exactly what happens when you take a pain medication like oxycodone or morphine. So get addicted to smiling and laughter…not drugs. 🙂
In closing, we have been smiling all of our lives. As we sat at my best friend’s house last night, we all watched he and his wife’s baby smile her huge smile. We all, of course, tried to make her smile and laugh because that means happiness. To some degree, we know that smiling not only feels good but also it actually is good for us as well. Many of us do shy away from smiling. And that is fine! I know that some of you are waiting for the opportunity to fuss back at me; because I’ve seen the Facebook posts about ‘I hate when people ask me to smile’. When the old man at the restaurant tells you to ‘smile cause you’ll be prettier’…this is not what I am talking about. I don’t blame you for not wanting to smile then. We all have our own individual problems and ordeals to deal with. Just remember that the next time you have the opportunity to share a smile, do it. That’s all I’m suggesting. Remember the words Mother Teresa who once said, “we shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
Images: Kashmiri shop keeper at Dilli Haat by and accredited to Koshy Koshy from Faridabad, Haryana, India – HappyUploaded by jkadavoor, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26319125
Family in a Kitchen by Bill Branson (Photographer) – This image was released by the National Cancer Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health, with the ID 2471 (image) (next)., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24047440
Girl in Bareina, (a small Bedouin village in the south of Mauritanie, West Africa) by and accredited to Ferdinand Reus from Arnhem, Holland – It’s a wonderful day!, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3220266
Avraham Fried in 2010 by and accredited to Shmuliphoto – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49032324