The Benefits of Smiling

September 28, 2018

Portrait of a cheerful young african woman smilingYou’ve probably heard the old adage—it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. And Annie lovers will know that “you’re never fully dressed without a smile!”

But why all this smile advice? For many, their immediate response is skepticism followed by a roll of the eyes. After all, some days we just don’t feel like smiling. But as cliché as these sayings are, they do have a valid point! Smiling regularly can provide a number of health benefits like elevated mood, longer lifespan, reduced stress and more. Keep reading to learn why you should show off your pearly whites more.

4 Reasons to Smile More

  1. Smiles Boost Feel-Good Hormones: Smiling floods your brain with more happy hormones than even chocolate! In fact, a British study about pleasure inducers found that one smile can stimulate your brain as much as eating up to 2,000 chocolate bars. Considering eating that much chocolate would be a disaster for your teeth and overall health, we recommend smiling more instead (in between occasional chocolate treats!).
  2. It Can Extend Your Lifespan: Don’t believe us? In 2010, Wayne State University conducted a research project that suggested smiling might actually make you live longer. The study gleaned this theory from analyzing pre-1950s baseball cards. They found players that smiled in their pictures, on average, lived for nearly 80 years, while players who didn’t smile only lived to be 72-73. That’s at least a seven-year difference!
  3. Smiling Aids in Stress Reduction: According to a recent study from the University of Kansas, smiling when stressed can help protect your heart from damage. Their study monitored volunteers’ hearts as they completed various tasks. Some volunteers held genuine smiles, some faked it and others stayed in a neutral expression. Some were even asked to hold chopsticks in their mouths to force a grin! Overall, the researchers found that even those who forced a smile with chopsticks had lower heart rates than participants with neutral expressions.
  4. People Will Respond Positively to You: When you smile, people in your presence are more likely to smile too. The part of our brain that is responsible for unconscious actions called the cingulate cortex gets triggered, and people are drawn to reciprocate the joy you make them feel in your presence. Smiles really are contagious!

Fake It Till You Make It

Even if you don’t feel like smiling sometimes, make it a point to force yourself to grin. And don’t feel bad about it not being authentic at first! Buddhist author Thich Nhat Hanh makes a good point: “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

So even if you have to fake it, take the mood boost and let it lead to more smiles in the future!