Many see smiling simply as an involuntary response to things that bring you joy or laughter. While this observation is certainly true, what most people overlook is that smiling can be just as much a voluntary response as a conscious and powerful choice.
Countless scientific studies have confirmed that a genuine smile is generally considered attractive to others around us. Other studies have shed light on how the act of smiling can elevate your mood and the mood of those around you. Still. others have found a strong link between good health, longevity, and smiling. Most importantly, studies have shown? that just the act of smiling (making the physical facial shapes and movements), whether the result of real joy or an act, can have both short- and long-term benefits on people’s health and wellbeing.
Still not convinced? Here are the top 10 reasons you should make a conscious effort to smile every day.1
Smiling Makes Us Attractive
Smiling Relieves Stress
Stress can permeate our entire being, and can really show up in our faces. Smiling not only helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed but can actually help reduce stress.
Believe it or not, smiling can reduce stress even if you don’t feel like smiling or even know that you’re smiling! When you are stressed, take the time to put on a smile. You and those around you will reap the benefits.3
Smiling Elevates Our Mood
Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There’s a good chance your mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you elevate your mood because the physical act of smiling actually activates neural messaging in your brain.
A simple smile can trigger the release of neural communication boosting neuropeptides as well as mood-boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Think of smiling like a natural anti-depressant.4
Smiling Is Contagious
How many smiles have been described as having the power to lighten up the room? While it is certainly a beautiful sentiment, it carries a hint of truth. Smiling not only has the power to elevate your mood, but it can also change the moods of others and make things happier.
The part of your brain that is responsible for your controlling the facial expression of smiling is an unconscious automatic response area. Meaning that smiling can be completely unconscious, particularly when it comes to our habit of mimicking another person’s smile. Yes, it is scientifically proven that smiles are “contagious!”5
Smiling Boosts Your Immune System
Smiling can also boost your overall health. The act of smiling actually helps the human immune system to function more effectively. It is thought that when you smile, immune function improves because you are more relaxed (thanks to the release of certain neurotransmitters).
In addition to taking precautions like washing your hands, why not try to prevent the cold and flu by smiling?6
Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure
When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home.
Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?7
Smiling Makes Us Feel Good
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin. Together these three neurotransmitters make us feel good from head to toe.
Not only do these natural chemicals elevate your mood, but they also relax your body and reduce physical pain. Smiling is a natural drug.8
Smiling Makes You Look Younger
Not only can smiling make you more attractive it can also make you look more youthful. The muscles we use to smile also lift the face, making a person appear younger.
So instead of opting for a facelift, just try smiling your way through the day—you’ll look younger and feel better.9
Smiling Makes You Seem Successful
Studies have shown that people who smile regularly appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and are more likely to be approached.
Try putting on a smile at meetings and business appointments. You might find that people react to you differently.10
Smiling Helps You Stay Positive
Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It’s hard, isn’t it?
Even when a smile feels unnatural or forced, it still sends the brain and ultimately the rest of our body the message that “Life is Good!” Stay away from depression, stress, and worry by smiling.Happiness Shortcuts: How To Instantly Lift Your Mood
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- Abel, EL, and ML Kruger. “Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity.” Center for Human Growth and Development. Wayne State University, April 2010.
- Hatfield, E, John T. Cacioppo, and Richard L. Rapson. “Susceptibility to Emotional Contagion.” Emotional Contagion (1993): 147-82.
- Little, A. C., B. C. Jones, and L. M. Debruine. “Facial Attractiveness: Evolutionary Based Research.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 366.1571 (2011): 1638-659.