Every time you smile, your brain receives a signal that it is time to switch to the “positive side” of thinking. It helps to improve your health and mood. In this article, you will learn 8 reasons why you should smile every day.
Reasons to smile
Smile relieves stress
In a 2012 study published in the journal Psychological Science, University of Kansas psychologists Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman studied smiles and their effect on human emotions. Note that smiles generally fall into two categories: “standard”, which uses the muscles around the mouth, and “sincere”, which uses the muscles around the mouth and eye.
The experiment involved 169 students. The research included two stages: training and testing. During the training phase, the participants were divided into three groups, and each of them was taught to maintain a different facial expression. Participants were instructed to hold chopsticks in their mouths to engage the facial muscles to create a neutral facial expression and a standard and genuine smile. Chopsticks were essential for this task because they made people smile even when they weren’t aware.
During the testing phase, participants were asked to work on multitasking. It was designed to be stressful. The first exercise required participants to circle the star pattern reflected in the mirror with their non-dominant hand – right-handers did it with their left, and left-handers with their right. In the second exercise, participants submerged their hands in ice water.
The study results show that smiling can affect our physical condition: Compared to participants with neutral facial expressions, smiling, especially those with a genuine smile, had a lower heart rate after recovering from stress. These results show that smiling during short-term stressors can help reduce the intensity of the body’s response, no matter how much we want to smile.
It helps to strengthen the immune system
Smiling helps your immune system function better. When we are frequently stressed, the immune system’s resources are expended in coping with them. A smile can improve our condition – and, accordingly, the work of the immune system will be aimed at maintaining the health of our body as a whole and not just the psyche. And to start your day with a smile, you can learn to wake up in a good mood – we already wrote about this.
Smile is contagious
There is a scientific explanation for why smiles are contagious. According to neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni, we all have mirror neurons in the premotor and inferior parietal cortex. They are activated when we perform a certain action and see how someone else is performing it. And when it comes to smiling, mirror neurons respond to both seeing and acting.
It builds trust
Psychologically, a smiling person appears to be more trustworthy than someone who frowns or maintains a neutral expression. A study by the University of Pittsburgh examined the potential relationship between a model’s attractiveness, the intensity of her smile, and perceived trust. Participants rated 45 models on these three criteria, and it was found that the more the models smiled, the more trustworthy they seemed.
Smiling releases serotonin and dopamine – natural pain relievers
Our brains release neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin when we smile. These chemicals help calm the nervous system by lowering heart rate and blood pressure.
Dopamine gives the brain energy, motivation, vigour and is essential for changing habits. Endorphins reduce pain perception and induce a positive feeling of euphoria in the body. Serotonin plays many different roles, but it can be thought of as a molecule of confidence and happiness.
It helps you look young
The face muscles are a lot like the muscles of the whole body – they also need to be trained. The muscles we use to smile lift our faces – a natural lift.
People who smile often do this, and as they age, they look younger than those who frown often. An experiment confirmed this: participants were shown photographs of people smiling or expressing other emotions. As a result, smiling people appeared younger than the participants in the experiment.
Smiling trains the brain to think positively
The brain is naturally inclined to think negatively – this is how the defence mechanism works. Smiling helps to tune him more positively and maintain this state of mind. By making smiling a part of our daily practice, we help our brains create “happiness loops” that encourage more positive thinking patterns.
It helps you look successful
A smile makes people believe that you are friendly, polite, honest, successful. These are the main components of our attractiveness.
Thus, with the help of a smile, we can look successful and achieve our goals much more efficiently – this is confirmed by a study of economists conducted in 2010. They found that happiness has a significant causal effect on productivity in the workplace. And just as positive emotions are encouraging, negative ones are also draining.