11 reasons to smile

Increasingly it is becoming very difficult to see people smiling as they go about their dailyIMG_1208 chores.  The stress of modern life has, it seems, wiped out the smile from people’s faces. But recently I came across a great article providing 11 reasons to smile…. an article that showed why it’s worth showing those pearly whites daily — even when you don’t necessarily feel like it.

At our business we live by the maxim that “when you come to us, you get what you want, at a fair price, always on or before time and service with a smile”. Being happy and smiling has been a way of life for us at the business.

So it was very apt when I came across an article on the magical powers of a smile. How appropriate, I thought. The daily routine of life can make it tough for many to plaster a smile on their face, especially when they are not feeling up to it.

But by choosing to smile, happy changes start to occur automatically, both internally and externally. There is great power in a random smile, as long as you choose to share it with the world.

Shown below are the nuggets curated from that article:

Smiling can improve your mood.

Our facial expressions not only communicate our current mood, they also have the ability to influence our mood as well. It is said that emotions originate in the brain, but the muscles in the face either reinforce or transform those feelings. These have been fortified by recent studies. These studies reveal that through the enhancement of positive emotions — or the suppression of negative ones — with facial expressions, a person’s mood begins to align more strongly with the emotion his or her face is communicating.

Fake smiles can help too

Researchers have found that even forcing yourself to smile can make you happy. Even if the existing mood and surroundings are against you. It only takes smiling for a brief period of time to experience its benefits — no matter how contrived it feels initially. In this case, maybe it’s OK to fake it a little.

Smile – a stress buster

In a study done at the University of Kansas, researchers found that manipulated facial expressions influence stress response. In their book, Grin and Bear It, researchers Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman noticed that smiling participants, regardless of whether they were aware of smiling, had lower heart rates during stress recovery.

Smiling makes you more approachable.

It has always been said that authentic smiles shared by employees in the service industry influenced their impressions on customers in a positive way. This was proved by a research done by Penn State in 2004.  Smiling employees came across as more likable and friendly, and customers left the interactions feeling more satisfied about their overall experience.  The research showed that despite the pressures of work, if employees displayed an authentic smile, they were seen to be more competent as well, in addition to the positive interaction they provided the customer.

Want to be seen as trustworthy – smile

From a psychological perspective, a person who is smiling appears more trustworthy than a person who is either frowning or holding a neutral expression. A study by the University of Pittsburgh showed that increased smile intensity was associated with greater trust. Smiling removed barriers and allowed people to see those smiling as some one who cared.

Smiling actually retrains your brain for the better.

While the brain is naturally inclined to think in negative terms as a defense mechanism, the habitual act of smiling helps the mind move to a more positive space and remain there longer the more you do it. According to Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage, by making smiling a part of our everyday practice, we help our brains create happiness loops that encourage more positive-thinking patterns.

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According to Ron Gutman, founder and CEO of Health Tap, “our brain’s circuitry of emotion and happiness is activated when we smile.”

Smiles are contagious.

Ever smiled at someone and noticed that they always reciprocate !! According to Marco Icobani, a globally renowned neuroscientist, this is caused by a small circuit of cells in the premotor cortex of our brain. Called the mirro neurons, these cells are activated not only when we perform an action but also when we see someone else performing the same action.  And when it comes to smiling, mirror neurons respond to the acts of both seeing and doing.

According to Icobani, “When I see you smiling, my mirror neurons for smiling fire up, too, initiating a cascade of neural activity that evokes the feeling we typically associate with a smile.”

Smiles may strengthen the body on a cellular level.

Just as this happy facial expression helps rid the body of stress, smiling can release tension on a cellular level as well, according to biochemist and artist Sondra Barrett. In her book, Secrets of Your Cells, Barrett explains how cells can distinguish between safety and danger, find and repair problems and create an overall sense of balance within the body. She also highlights how a person’s thoughts have a direct effect on cell function. When we smile, we reduce the rigidness of our cells, and this physical relaxation can help combat the risk of stress-induced cell mutations that can lead to the development or persistence of various cancers.

Image courtesy stockimages @ freedigitalphotos,net

Image courtesy stockimages @ freedigitalphotos,net

Smiling boosts your productivity.

The benefits of putting a grin on your face at the office don’t begin and end with a mood boost; that dose of happiness can help make you a more productive employee as well. In 2010, a team of economic researchers found that happiness has a significant and causal effect on productivity in the workplace. And just as the positive emotions prove invigorating, negative ones are equally draining.

Smiling makes you more creative.

This same mood boost can get those creative juices flowing. A 2013 study from the University of California, San Francisco explored this connection in men and found that those who were happier had a more comprehensive approach to problems, improving their ability to think of more solutions than their negative-minded counterparts. The researchers connected this finding to the release of dopamine triggered by happiness, since the neurotransmitter is involved in learning, processing and decision-making.

Smiles are free!

Smiley FaceThis all-around mood booster is one of the few available to you each day at no cost whatsoever. So why not take advantage of your own power to create happiness? As Sarah Pressman says, “The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment. Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well!”

[The original article can be read here]
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