There’s a certain clarity and comfort that occurs when modern research confirms what we know to be true in our hearts. In our first article on the power of a smile, let’s explore how smiling makes us healthier and happier…
We all intuitively know the power of a smile.
It makes us feel younger, happier, and healthier.
Historically, Dale Carnagie is quoted to have said that a smile is one of our most powerful assets. But what is the hard scientific impact of this ‘feel good’ habit anyway?
It turns out that it’s true.
The physical act of smiling positively impacts our health and well-being across all systems and functions in the body.
Smiling reduces stress
We have discussed how stress very well could be the #1 cause of gum disease. Our culture continues to wake up to the reality that a happy, healthy life can’t be found in a supplement or finding the right diet. Bottom line, if we are stressed, the state of mind will undermine our health and happiness.
The good news is there’s a free, very easy way to interrupt the stress cycle. Smiling has been proven to stimulate the release of endorphins. These ‘feel good’ biochemicals help soothe tension and bring peace to a stressed out, frazzled state of mind.
Interestingly, habitual stress also directly undermines our ability to maintain a healthy ‘oral flora’. The microbial balance of the oral microbiome is critically important to our ability to navigate to optimal oral health over the long term.
Smiling boosts our immune system
As you can imagine, with a reduction in stress comes a natural support to our immune system. Scientists have become fascinated with the clinical impact of ‘soft’ approaches like laughter therapy. Not surprisingly, even just the simple smile stimulates immune response and makes us healthier.
In fact, even all the way down the line of ‘conventional’ cancer treatment, smiling and laughter still showed substantial benefit to support greater health.
Can we “fake it ’til we make it” with smiling?
If we want to provoke a change in mood (which results in a healthier physiology), research fairly conclusively points toward the idea that we can bring about positive change simply by making a smile.
The firing of the muscles that produce a smile directly trigger pathways in the brain to bring about the shift to feeling happier (and therefore healthier).
“Isn’t it bad to pretend to be happy when I’m not?”
We think this question really has merit. For clarity, we’re not suggesting that every time you feel anything but thrilled, you paste a fake smile on your face. Every emotion has its place.
In fact, scientific research has shown that if we regularly suppress negative emotions, they will leak into other areas of our lives. Like a volcano that doesn’t have a vent, the pressure builds (which undermines our health) and ends up ‘blowing out’ into other areas, oftentimes causing damage where it erupts.
In one study, participants held objects in their mouths to inhibit their ability to smile or grimace. Then they were shown a series of photos that were grotesque. As they were not able to express their upset on their faces, the emotions sat unexpressed in their systems.
Then participants were asked to take a fill in the blank survey where they were asked to complete words like “gr_ss”. Participants who were inhibited in their ability to express their feelings on their faces were more likely to fill in ‘gross’ rather than other options like ‘grass’.
Bottom line, we have to express our emotions when they arise. Thus, the saying regarding emotions, “Let it flow and let it go” seems to be wise.
However, when it comes to habituating sad, down, generally negative emotional patterns, there’s nothing wrong with interrupting the pattern and bringing a smile to your face.
You may be surprised, that fake smile may just become a real smile simply by your conscious choice to bring positive change to your reality. In fact, for me personally, when I choose to smile when I’m feeling down, the action almost always automatically lifts my mood and brings the change I seek.
A personal challenge for you…
Let’s have some fun with this… Let’s do a spontaneous challenge with one another, ok? See how you feel at the moment. On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your mood? Give it a quick ‘gut check’ score.
For example, right now, I’m feeling a solid 7. I’m around my family while writing to you about how you can improve your health. I have no immediate needs.
Once you have your score, let’s hold a gentle smile on our faces for 30 seconds. I’m not talking about the cursory smile you give when a family member says, ‘smile’ for a photo. I’m talking about the gentle, genuine smile that comes from acknowledging that at this moment, all your needs are met. That we are so provided for. If the gentle smiles wants to grow into a bigger smile using more cheek muscles, let it go there.
Ready? I’ve already started just asking you to give this a try. 🙂
After this paragraph, please pause reading this during the 30 seconds and look around your surroundings. If you see something that provokes you to drop your smile, hold your commitment to yourself to complete this 30 second gentle smile. If you take this in earnest, it’s hardwired into your DNA to begin to see the world a little brighter. You may very well see your ‘half full’ glass of water in front of you.
What would happen if we set a gentle sounding alarm to ring every hour we are awake as a reminder to practice our 30 second smile? Would we feel happier? Healthier? More hopeful? More productive? Younger? More attractive? More friendly? More successful? Science has already proven each of these. Now it’s up to you what you choose to do with this. Join us in consciously cultivating a smile to your face on regular basis and see how your life blossoms.
And when this happens, please share your experience with us here in the comments below. Together we can learn so much from each other.
It goes without saying, if you know someone who could use to hear this message, please share it with them. That way, together we create even more smiles in the world.
In upcoming articles, we will share our favorite ‘smile hacks’, our ‘go to’ ways to bring a genuine smile to our faces and shake a blue mood when we’re feeling down as well as a secret smile conspiracy we will invite you to join. 🙂
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