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…”Cause when you worry your face will frown and that will bring everybody down so don’t worry, be happy”…these wonderful lyrics by Bobby McFerrin remind us of the impact our facial expressions have on others. We’ve never doubted that smiling is good for public relations but recent studies are discovering that the smile has an energetic force which affects more aspects of our lives than previously realized. A Penn State study not only revealed that smiling makes a person more likeable and appear more competent, but that smiling reduces stress-enhancing hormones and, therefore, benefits our overall well-being and longevity. University of Kansas reported that smiling reduces heart rate- even a feigned smile-and that unauthentic smiles may induce a sincere smile. Therefore, when we feel down practicing a smile may have a physical uplifting effect. In a nutshell, smiling seems to ignite our inner shine; that part of us that lights up a room or makes us likeable.
There were various articles online reporting that children smile up to 400 times a day. It has also been reported that infants not only smile in their sleep but they smile in the womb (University of Durham). In stark contrast, most adults smile approximately 20 times per day. This is perhaps due to the difference in perception children have of the world versus adults, which incites lessons for us grown-ups. A happier life may entail perceiving the world with greater openness. Instead, we typically use experience and the advice of others to compartmentalize our world, measure our potential and even define possibility. It is, indeed, possible to live more openly responsibly, so being perceived a “Pollyanna” needn’t be a threat. Mark Stibich, PhD, consultant at Columbia University also reported that smiling helps to reduce symptoms associated with anxiety and can therefore have beneficial effects on our health, career, love life and longevity, so it behooves us adults to make a daily effort to improve our smiling quotient.
Being grateful for what we do have, instead of focusing on all that we don’t have, helps. Also, being mindful of others or sharing a kind word helps one’s self, as well as the community. We can actually hear smiles over the phone and see smiles on dogs. Despite one’s culture, smiling is understood by everyone as a positive gesture; it is a universal expression of benevolence because it is an expression innate to our very species.
Understanding the power of the smile makes it a no-brainer to use as a life tool. We can use it on ourselves and we can use it on others. Mother Theresa said, “I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish,” and for those who think that behavior begets smiling, Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
Make a daily effort to include positivity and smiling into your lifestyle, just as you would brushing your teeth, eating a healthy diet or exercising. Shaboo dares you to take it even a step further by openly sharing your smile with strangers. A kind facial greeting may have a greater, mutually beneficial ripple effect than we fully understand. What is your daily smile quotient?