If we hear one more person say “smile, it’s a beautiful day!”, we’re just going to explode. How can they be so happy? And what’s a smile got to do with it? If this is part of that “positive thinking” stuff that’s going around, we just don’t get it. On the other hand, what if they’re right? What if a smile can change your attitude, well being and mental health? Does the whole world really smile back? Not only does the world smile back, but the smile on your face changes everything, beginning with your mental and physical health.
It’s Begins in the Brain
Neurotransmitters in the brain send messages to the body and vice versa. When the body is in pain, the brain receives the message and sends soothing substances to the hurting part of the body. But what happens when a positive influence is felt in the brain? Smiles and laughter cause endorphins to be released into the body. It’s hard to be stressed when feel-good things are floating around the body. Dopamine and serotonin are also released when we smile. These keep up the good mood and lowers the heart rate and blood pressure. When we smile enough, chemical anti-depressants won’t be necessary. Thus, mental health is improved by smiling.
And Moves to the Body
Studies have proven that smiling improves the immune system. If smiling eliminates stress, then the immune system doesn’t have to work as hard to alleviate the resulting harm to the body. Studies have also shown that smiling increases life expectancy. Women who smile a lot are expected to live up to ten years longer, while men who flash their pearly whites may expect to see seven more years. Since the blood pressure and heart rate are relaxed by smiling, the body is healthier.
All of Which Affects the Attitude
Did you know that it takes 47 muscles to frown, but only 17 to smile? That means more relaxed facial muscles, which benefits the attitude. Additionally, when faced with pleasant circumstances like pictures or people, we smile more often. This acts like a magnet to other people, who smile in return.
But it’s more than that, actually. The body reacts to the slightest stimulus. For example, should you twitch your nose and scrunch up your eyes as if you smelled something awful, the body reacts by tensing. This makes people around you wary, and they tense up as well. Now, if you were to slightly lift the corners of your mouth and squint your eyes, the body reacts by loosening up. A full smile or even a laugh will emerge. The people around you notice this ease of the body. They, too, will smile or laugh, even if they don’t know what’s going on.
It’s Also about Beauty
The purpose of mankind was originally to go forth and multiply. What the original treatise didn’t tell us is how we are to attract that which will help us along that path. A full showing of the pearly whites makes us more attractive to other people. Mankind has worn the oddest of clothing, doused itself with the strongest of scents and worn the hair in the oddest of fashions. While fashion makes a pretty big case for attraction, the simplest of things makes fashion a moot point.
The Scottish University of Aberdeen conducted a study of men and women smiling. The results were that smiling made women look years younger and more beautiful when all they wore was a smile. Makeup didn’t enter the picture. Indiana’s DePauw University’s study thought that marriages lasted longer when more smiles were involved. The point was that smiling people attract happy people, so happier marriages last longer when smiling is part of the bond.
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