Everyone knows how great laughter is. It curbs stress, banishes depression, slashes your blood pressure, firms up your immune system, and even, according to new research, burns calories. But if you want to reap all of these healthy-living benefits, you needn’t load up a series of hilarious YouTube videos or book tickets to a comedy show any time soon. All you have to do is crack a smile.
In fact, if you take it from the scientific community, smiling might be the best au natural medicine out there. Don’t believe us? Just scroll on and see for yourself. Herewith, you’ll find all of the reasons—from productivity boosts to mood enhancers—that saying “cheese” more often is the best thing you can do for yourself. And for more ways to live a happier life, see how Saying This One Word Will Boost Your Mood By 25 Percent.
It improves your mood.
According to Psychology Today, when you smile, it instantly activates the release feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin in your brain. This release will improve your mood—regardless of if your smile is genuine or not. And for more ways to uncover true happiness, check out these 20 Top Tricks from Therapists on Finding Happiness.
It makes you more approachable.
As it turns out, your smile affects those around you as well. When this symbol of friendliness stretches across your face, it can make you seem more approachable to others. In fact, a 2004 study conducted by Penn State University found that when employees shared smiles with their customers in the service industry, it positively affected the customers’ experience in the store, leaving them happier and satisfied with their purchases.
It makes you seem more trustworthy.
Researchers who conducted a study at the University of Pittsburgh found that, when participants ranked models on three different conditions, that they overwhelming trusted the models more who were smiling during the study. Basically, when you smile, it conveys a sort of innocent kindness that translates to trustworthiness. And for more on the mysterious ways our body handles emotion, This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Fall in Love.
It trains your brain to think more positively.
Since the brain is naturally wired to force negativity as a defense mechanism, a smile has the ability to counteract that attitude with a happy positivity. In fact, you can even train yourself to smile more, and therefore effectively train yourself to react more positively to life events, no matter how gloomy they may be.
It will make other people happy.
Smiling is contagious, so when you light up the room with your own, other people tend to read into your emotions as well with a similar feeling of happiness and joy. Due to mirror neurons that fire in the brain, humans are able to mimic the actions of others, like smiling, which has the ability to produce happiness. And for more ways happiness affects your body, Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You Laugh.
It boosts your productivity.
Though it may not be exactly scientific, it’s a simple fact that when you’re happy, you tend to work harder and feel more confident in your work—which inevitably boosts your productivity. This was confirmed by a team of economic researchers in 2010, who found that smiling contributed to a healthier work ethic in an office environment.
It makes you more creative.
Further, the dopamine released by a smile is involved in learning, processing, and decision-making, allowing for a heightened creativity as it pertains to problem-solving and artistic endeavors requiring much analysis.
It opens you up to new opportunities.
When you smile, it makes you more confident in yourself, and others—especially while traveling abroad—will feel more comfortable with you upon seeing this universal symbol of kindness. So, yes, that old saying is true; smiling does open you up to the world.
It can release emotions that have been burdening you.
A smile or a good laugh can help you release negative emotions that have long been on your mind. It can be akin to listening to your favorite song during a bad day at work—reminding yourself that happiness is still a valid emotion through stress and pain can alter your whole perception of the day.
It makes us more attractive to others.
Not only does smiling make you more attractive to potential suitors, but it can also make you appear more attractive to anyone who is around to witness the act. Since interaction seems to be much easier and more enjoyable when you’re smiling, others will see your happiness as an attractive quality and want to be around your positivity all of the time. Further, the muscles that you use to form a smile can also smooth the wrinkles on your face and make you appear younger.
It makes you more successful.
When you flash a smile to a coworker in the workplace, this small act of positivity and kindness can go a long way, creating a chain of happiness that can stay in the office for an extended period of time. Also, because a smile can enforce a sense of trustworthiness, your coworkers learn to come to you with their issues, and your boss can even begin to trust you with bigger projects—all because of one smile.
It can convey confidence.
Unlike how negative behaviors can make others doubt the confidence that you have in yourself, smiling and emoting a positive attitude can make those around believe that you’re entirely confident in yourself and your abilities. This trick will especially help you in the workplace, where a quick flash of teeth to your boss can convey that you’re ready to tackle any obstacle heading your way.
It reduces stress.
Many scientists have deduced that, when you smile, it reduces the levels of cortisol produced in your brain, effectively minimizing the stress you feel. This is backed up by a 2012 University of Kansas study, which found that those participants who smiled while performing a strenuous task (even if the smile was not genuine) had a lower heart rate and were less stressed out than those who were not smiling.
It puts you in the mood.
When you smile, certain hormones that are introduced into your system—specifically, norepinephrine, oxytocin, and phenylethylmine—make you feel sexually aroused and emotionally available, providing the perfect climate for your partner yourself to physically connect. So, the next time you’re looking for a way to make your date night sizzle, just fill it with smiles and laughter for the hottest date night yet.
It can help get you out of a sticky situation.
When you’re either embarrassed about something that you did or are looking for forgiveness, a quick smile can come in handy. Yet again, a smile can make others instantly trust you—and in return, see that you possess empathy and understanding in your smile that can pave new beginnings or stronger foundations for your relationships.
It benefits your romantic relationship.
As previously mentioned, the hormones released through a smile can have positive effects on your sex life, but as it turns out, they can also greatly impact your accompanying romantic partnership as well. In fact, the release of Oxytocin, aside from having many other positive impacts on your mood, can also create feelings of emotional attachment and the desire to cuddle—both things that can only make your romantic relationship stronger.
It can create harmony in the workplace.
Since smiles are contagious, yours will spread like rapid-fire in the office, actually doing its part to create harmony among coworkers. Similar to how the sour mood of one coworker can reverberate sky-high levels of unhappiness throughout the office, your warm smile to one co-worker can create a chain effect of kindness and warmth.
It can help you overcome grief.
Along with finding things that can make you smile during times of grief, the simple act of smiling alone can release those feel-good neurons (including natural painkillers) that can work to stifle, and even eventually overcome, any sadness that you feel in the moment.
It can reduce aggression.
As revealed by a study out of the University of Bristol in England, seeing a smile can help reduce aggression in others. “The results of our experiments strongly suggest that biases in the perception of emotional facial expressions play a causal role in subjective anger and aggressive behavior,” the study authors noted. This means that just by witnessing a smile, a person about to perform an act of aggression was more likely to stop this emotion in its tracks.
It can increase your job satisfaction.
To reiterate, smiling can reroute your brain’s normal tendencies towards the negative to make way for a more positive outlook. On that note, making a habit of smiling more at work can force your brain to associate this positivity with your workplace, therefore increasing the satisfaction that you feel at your job.
It can make you a better leader.
Smiling draws people to you—meaning that your positivity can make you an excellent leader. Further, when you’re constantly upbeat, it can make others feel more relaxed and able to be themselves, fostering a truly nurturing work environment that can only make others excel. And isn’t that the whole point of leadership?
It makes you more aware of your surroundings.
Instead of always looking down at your feet, taking a moment to look up and smile—at passersby, at cute dogs, at stunning architecture—on the street can force you to take in more of your surroundings.
It can make you live longer.
Yes, showing off your teeth has the ability to make you extend your lifespan. A study out of University College London found that people who smile more often are 35 percent more likely to live longer—so maybe it’s time for you to give smiling a chance. And for more shortcuts to happiness, check out these 75 Genius Tricks to Get Instantly Happy.
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