Life is better when you smile.

Have you ever had a horrible day?

Things just aren’t going right, you’re all stressed out and you’ve got a knot forming in your back.  Nothing seems to be going your way and you’re just a wreck.  Then the unexpected happens.  Someone looks your way and flashes you a friendly smile, you smile back and somehow things feel a little better.

What just happened?

It turns out when you smile things do actually get better, and if your smile reaches someone else it can actually make their day brighter.

How is this possible?

Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides in your brain which go to work to start fighting off stress!  When released neuropeptides assist with messaging feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, depression and excitement to the whole body.  You also release serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine when you smile.  These all go to work to actually make you feel better.  These endorphins also help to reduce pain.  The Serotonin that is released when you smile acts as a pain reliever and anti-depressant.

Not only does smiling help your mind and body it also makes you more attractive.  People will treat you differently when you smile.  This is because when you smile others will view you as attractive, in control, stable, honest and trustworthy.   An article placed in the journal Neuropsychoelogia found that seeing a smile excites the region of the brain that processes sensory rewards.  This may explain a study that was done by the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.  Participants were asked to rate how smiling corresponds to attractiveness.  They found that people who smiled and made eye contact were viewed as more attractive than others.

The smile is actually contagious.  The smile originates in the cingulate cortex.  This is the part of the brain that is responsible for facial expressions.  In a study, subjects were shown photos of people expressing anger, fear, joy and surprise.  When the picture of joyful expression came up the researchers asked the participants to frown.  Instead the participants would automatically imitate the expression that the subjects observed.  It took a conscious effort to invert the emotion shown.  So when you smile at someone they will almost always smile back.

So the next time you find yourself in the dumps, take a break from your pity party and put a big smile on your face.  It can’t hurt and it may actually make you feel better!

I know that there is nothing that makes me happier than having my wife smiling at me.






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