Have You Smiled Today

Smiling is one of the easiest things we do. We learn to do it as newborns and continue to smile throughout our lives. Despite being something that is easy and comes naturally, we often can find ourselves needing a reason to smile or even refusing to smile. Whether it is due to anger or sadness, or just not being happy with a certain someone, we can often catch ourselves not smiling.  

Smiling can help you in a number of different ways, not only improving your mood and health but even those around you. A random smile can unlock happy feelings internally and externally. Smiling is contagious. By choosing to share your smile, you give everyone around you a boost.  

Smiling improves your mood 

There is a lot of evidence showing that smiling can improve your mood. Our emotions flow from our brain to our muscles in our face, allowing a positive feeling to be visible on your face. Researchers have discovered however, that by expressing positive emotions on your face first through a smile, such as in a place where you feel happy, you can influence your brain’s emotions and improve your own mood further. This even works for fake smiles. If you have ever been in a situation where you had to force a smile when you did not feel like it, you may recall that soon after your mood improved. This further proves that smiling improves your mood, regardless of the situation. In fact, just the muscle movement improved the mood. In another test, researchers had subjects simulate smiles with chopsticks to determine if muscle activity in the face could affect mood. Those who had a smile created by the chopsticks exhibited lower heart rate levels after completing a stressful task.  

Smiling retrains your brain 

Smiling more often can help your brain recognize happy moods and stay in those moods more often. This can lead to your brain being rewired to think of positivity as the default. By smiling more often, we can begin to look for other ways in our world to smile and think positively. Our brain can be rewired for a happiness loop. By regularly smiling, we can look for positive thoughts and actions and therefore create more positive thoughts and actions for ourselves.  

Smiles are contagious 

It has probably happened before. You smiled, someone looked at you, and then that person smiled too. This is not only because you have a nice smile. Our brains are trained to react this way. Our brains are wired for sociability. If one person sees another person smiling, the mirror neurons in that person’s brain will light up as if they were smiling themselves. Mirror neurons are cells in our brain that activate when we perform an action as well as see someone else performing it. By seeing someone else smile, we activate cells in our brains that make us feel like we are smiling.  

Smiles strengthen the body on a cellular level 

Smiles can help reduce stress; did you know this could even affect your cells? When we smile, we let go of stress and tension. This also happens on the cellular level, as our cells become less rigid. Scientists have found cases where patients have seen their cancer enter remission because the patients let go of a strong stressful factor in their lives. Though obviously other factors can contribute to reducing stress, smiling is just one of the many ways to reduce stress.  

These are just a few of the many different ways a smile can boost your health. If you do not think you smile enough, try it. You will boost your mood, reduce your stress, and put everyone around you in a better mood. Have you smiled today? 

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Micah Peterson

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