We all smile. Jokes, good deeds, accomplishments, when your crush says hi and much more. These are all good reasons to smile, giggle and laugh. It’s a natural response to positive things. So we can conclude that happy things make us smile. But what if we smile for no reason? Can a smile create happiness?
Scientifically yes! We can create happiness from nothing. While positive experiences are great, our happiness doesn’t have to depend on them. We don’t only have to smile in the presence of goodness.
For example, I have a co-worker who wears her smile on her sleeve. Anytime she passes by the hallway or the kitchen area she makes an effort to smile and say hi. Most others return the gesture at first, but after the first few meetings they do a quick glance or nod (you know what I’m talking about, the cool nod we’re all striving for). However, this one person doesn’t do the glance, nod, head-bob thing; she wears a full smile when she says hi. This got me thinking, is she happy all the time?
The simple answer is no. Human emotions are complex, and we all have good days and bad days, to say the least. Our emotions vary. We feel happiness, sadness, anger, love, fear, surprise, etc. Understandably we are not going to be in a happy place at all times, but we can certainly fall on the positive side of the scale by smiling more.
Back to my co-worker, like everyone she has tough days, sometimes she is in a rush and sometimes she is stressed. I believe she has conditioned herself to smile frequently, thus creating happiness even on tougher days. This doesn’t mean ignoring other emotions that arise; this means that you have access to happiness whenever you need it. And it starts with a simple smile.
Studies show, smiling whether it’s genuine or forced has many of the same benefits. It can reduce stress, induce positive thoughts and create good moods. It’s a simple yet a very powerful tool for overall wellbeing.
Published research by Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman in Psychological Science describes an interesting way to mimic smiling. The participants of the experiment placed chopsticks in their mouth to manipulate a smile. Although it was forced, it demonstrated that facial activity from a smile can affect moods.
When we smile the muscles around our face contract sending signals to the brain. The brain receives this feedback and triggers feelings of joy. Simply put, our brain responds to good things with smiles and so we can do so to persuade the brain to feel happy. The brain also keeps a scorecard and tracks how often we smile so we can change the brain by smiling more and instilling the habit to think positive thoughts. It’s like throwing a feel-good party for the brain, talk about good vibes only!
Influence of a smile
Mother Teresa said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” She was right. Not only can a smile change the way we think, but it can also influence those around us. It’s contagious, and we should throw it like confetti. When people smile at me, I naturally smile back falling into a bubble of happiness. I am more likely to smile at others because my brain holds onto this positive feeling. When I smile at others, they will then smile at more people in return. It’s infectious, and the joy is contagious!
Boosts immune system
Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins are natural painkillers. The more endorphins your brain can release the more we can fight illnesses. This also boosts our immune system. When smiling or laughing our white blood cell count increases, white blood cells are the first in the line of defense against sickness. So not only is smiling pleasurable for the brain, but it’s very important for your health. It truly is the best medicine and it doesn’t cost anything. Make sure you smile right now. Throw on a big grin on your face!
When we’re happy, we’re naturally more energetic. Our creative juices are flowing, our bodies are free from tension, and we’re able to process information better. This is because when we feel relaxed, we can focus without stress or worries. Happiness and positive thinking play a key role in increased performance across all levels including decision making, productivity, creativity, interaction and much more. Being calm allows us to think clearly and direct our energies in an encouraging manner.
You can create this energy by smiling everyday. Whether it’s real or not, make an effort to smile every chance you get. If you have to force the smile, go right ahead. Fake it ‘till you make it! A smile is easily accessible so go for it and motivate your mind to feel happiness. The more you smile, the more you’ll be able to condition yourself into a happier lifestyle.
Whenever my co-worker smiles at me, I’m instantly refreshed. It’s so amazing how I can go from being stressed to feeling good all because of a simple gesture. I feel kindness, and interestingly enough I become kind towards others and towards myself. I stop complaining and stop putting myself down over the little things, like a spelling mistakes or typos. Not that I stop caring, but I’m able to move on. I get out of the negative space, create good energy.
A smile is universal, and it is a universal act of kindness. No matter where you are, continue to smile and spread the love. Remember we have all types of emotions and we don’t want to refrain from feeling the various emotions that come up. Both pleasant and unpleasant feelings and thoughts are here to teach us lessons, and it’s vital we are open to all of it, but just know that you have the power to create your happiness and spread good vibes only. It’s in your hands. It’s in your smile. Wear your smile proudly and loudly. It’s your best accessory!