Counselling Resource

Psychology, Philosophy & Real Life

Dr George Simon, PhD

What’s in a Smile?

Smiling can actually add years to your life, counteracting the effects of stress, alleviating pain, lowering blood pressure, and boosting the immune system.

Photo by Tetsumo - //flic.kr/p/6MYDjs
Photo by Tetsumo - http://flic.kr/p/6MYDjs

There’s a line in an old song that goes: “When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you…”. While a smile probably doesn’t have the power to get the whole world moving in lock-step to a good mood, convincing research indicates that there are indeed some very powerful benefits to this very human facial exercise. And some of the research suggests that smiling can even help you lead a healthier and longer life.

According to Mark Stibich, Ph.D. some of the numerous health and quality of life benefits of smiling include:

Feeling better
Smiling can help change your attitude, connect with people and confer other benefits on your body. Like relaxation, smiling works to counteract the effects of stress. And we don’t have to really be in a good mood first in order to smile. Like turning on a switch, smiling can actually help you instantaneously change your mood. By forcing ourselves to smile, even when we don’t feel like it, we can “trick” our body into believing things are good, thereby changing your mood and reducing your level of stress. So put a smile on, even if you don’t feel like it, and before long you can have some genuine happy feelings behind your smile. Smiling also helps your body release endorphins and enkephalins, and serotonin, the chemicals that alleviate pain and make you feel positive.
Connecting better socially
Let’s face it, smiling is “attractive” in multiple senses of the word. It’s a great way to draw others toward you by sending the message that it’s both safe and desirable to be engaged with you. Smiling opens the door to positive social interaction like no other non-verbal behavior. Besides, smiling is infectious. When you smile, you naturally invite others to share the experience.
Staying healthier
Smiling helps lower your blood pressure and boost the activities of your immune system. Combined with its stress-relieving power, smiling is a great way to keep yourself physically and emotionally fit.
Looking younger
Like a natural face lift, frequent smiling helps tone the facial muscles and actually makes you appear younger. Stress lines fade and frown wrinkles diminish the more you smile.

Smiling has many physiological, emotional, and psychological benefits. And because it can help you stay healthy, it can actually add years to your life. So, science has now provided us with validation for the old exhortation: “Smile. You’ll live longer!”

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