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The Benefits of Smiling

by Marianne Navada

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.  

Thich nhat hanh

Smiling helps improve our mood, relieve stress, boost our immune system, and makes us feel that the world is a better place. In studies, people that had a smile on their faces while out in public felt that people were friendlier in general. The caveat, it’s not that the people around them were friendlier; rather, their smile made them friendlier, which in turn made others friendlier towards them.

By consciously performing positive physiological reactions, such as smiling, we can shift our mindset. When we are stressed, our breathing becomes short and choppy, so we lengthen our inhales and exhales to calm us down. The same principle applies to smiling. When we feel our mood turning dark, smiles can help brighten us up.

What Happens to Us When We Smile?

Smiling leads to chemical reactions in the brain, releasing hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine increases our level of happiness and serotonin release is associated with reduced stress.

Dr. Isha Gupta

Social Connection and Smiling

An eye contact, a smile, these small gestures to strangers make us feel socially connected and less isolated. These are not major relationships, but simple connections with strangers. The positive effects work both ways. So you’re not only boosting your mood, but making a stranger feel less invisible.

Phones draw our gaze down and this takes away from possible short social connection we may experience in the least expected of places.

Get Smiling

Smiling directly affects the people around you. Smiling is contagious.

Smile therapy can be incorporated in so many aspects of daily life. When you’re driving, walking the grocery aisle, writing an email, during yoga, while having your morning coffee, looking at yourself in the mirror…

Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga is another example of changing your mindset through physiological response. In this case, you get a group of people together, and you force laugh. Eventually, the force laughter develops into real laughter. Call it crazy? Some call it therapy.

Commit to living.