There are few things that can help brighten someone’s day more than a warm, genuine smile. Smiles haven’t always been en vogue, however! In the U.S., studies reviewing photographs show that social smiles were not as commonplace until after the start of the 1900’s, and even then, smiling was thought to be a silly practice. Luckily, the smile has become far more commonplace today, and for good reason.
Smiling is just plain good for you, and those around you. Smiling makes life better. Here’s how:
Smiling can help you live longer. A study reviewing photographs and statistics of major league baseball players during the 1950’s and beyond showed that players who smiled more and exhibited more positive emotions actually lived longer, happier and more stable lives.
Smiling is good for your heart. Stressful events and activities can take a toll on the human body and cause stress. Stress raises the blood pressure and makes the heart work harder. Participants in this study were asked to perform a task that raised their stress level. Some were asked to smile, while others asked to hold a straight face. The study showed that the smiling subjects’ heart rate recovered more quickly from the stress. This certainly gives credence to that old adage “grin and bear it!”
We know how to smile before we’re even born. Most newborns don’t start smiling regularly until they are about 6 weeks old, but scans of babies in utero show that we were born knowing how to smile. Tooth buds are also formed as early as 7 weeks during gestation, so it makes sense that human babies practice showing off their smiles early on!
Smiling can make you happier if you’re feeling down. We usually assume people smile because they are happy, but did you know that you can become happy if you practice smiling? When you smile, or even when you say words like “cheese,” or clench a pen between your teeth, the muscles in your face move. A study relating to this theorizes that the muscle movement changes the temperature and amount of blood flow to your brain, which can cause changes in your feelings and mood.
Smiling and laughter can change how you experience pain, and even increase your endurance. Endorphins are those feel-good chemicals that the brain releases when we are feeling good, or to help us feel better if we are experiencing pain. A series of experiments revealed that people who smiled and laughed had a experienced less pain than those who did not laugh and smile.
Smiling makes you look younger. Smiling lifts the face muscles, makes your cheeks rounder, and the skin look more taut. No studies needed – just go find a mirror, and smile into it. Voila! Instant face-lift.
Smiling can be great for your romantic life. In this study both men and women found potential mates more attractive when they were smiling, versus holding a straight face. We’ll just leave that fact right here for you and turn over the “do-not-disturb” sign.
Smiling can help your career and earning potential. Facial expressions have a big impact on both first and future impressions. People who smile often are more likely to be remembered and recognized in the future. These folks are also viewed as more approachable and have better success in social and professional interactions.
Smile, and give your immune system a boost. The human body heals and recovers more quickly when it is at rest. This study concluded that children hospitalized with immune diseases were showing signs of recovery more quickly when they spent more time smiling and laughing. It looks like this means that laughter heals the body AND the soul!
Your smile has the power to heal your friends, too. Smiling is contagious, and we mean that in the best possible way. Have you noticed that if someone gives you a warm smile, it’s pretty hard not to smile back? Our brains are hard-wired to reflect the mood and emotions of those around us.
So. Are you smiling yet? For more inspiration, check out our smile gallery and tell us what makes you smile, and then get out there and make the world smile back!