The secret is a simple smile! Your smile instantly relaxes you, boosts your immune system, counteracts stress/anxiety and negativity, enhances your brain’s ability to think and reduces physical and emotional pain. And since smiles are literally contagious, you can spread the joy!
Research shows by simply activating your “smile muscles” a spontaneous, feel-good chemical reaction is produced in the brain which sends an “all is well” signal throughout your body.
Are you over 40, and want to turn back the hands of time? One study using both humans and computers trained to accurately evaluate human age consistently reported participants over 40 who smiled appeared 6-7 years younger than their actual ages.
Your smile makes others feel like a million bucks. No joke – In one UK study British researchers using sophisticated imaging equipment studied the effects of a single smile on the brain’s motivation/reward system. Researchers found a child’s smile shown to participants delivered the same level of brain stimulation as receiving $25,000 in cash or up to 2,000 bars of chocolate!
If you think a serious look makes you appear more confident, think again. Studies continue to show you appear much more confident to others when you smile and if you want to strike up conversation with complete strangers, smiling is your ticket to success.
But what if I don’t feel like smiling? Should you smile anyway? The answer is, yes! Researchers from the University of Kansas wanted to know the physiological effects of facial expressions when participants worked through various challenges designed to invoke physical and mental stress. Before undertaking their stressful tasks subjects were divided into three groups and taught how to hold a chopstick in their mouths to force a particular facial expression…
- Group 1 participants held the chopstick to keep a neutral expression.
- Group 2 participants held the chopstick to simulate a smile by activating only the muscles around the mouth – commonly referred to as a fake smile.
- Group 3 participants were asked to consciously smile engaging muscles around both the eyes and mouth (a genuine smile) while simultaneously holding their chopstick in a manner that helped them keep their broad smile.
It is probably no surprise that participants who smiled genuinely had significantly lower stress levels during challenging activities while volunteers with neutral faces recorded the highest stress levels. Interestingly, those participants with forced smiles also had lower stress levels than the neutral faces. Your smile triggers feel-good chemicals in the brain even when all you can do is “grin and bear it”.
So don’t let the world wipe that grin off your face. Go ahead – smile and enjoy life!