By Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed.
In today’s society, we tend to look for quick fixes to our physical and mental health issues, problems connecting with others, and emotional discomforts. To our disappointment, most of the time we find that what we thought was a quick fix is not truly a fix at all. Therefore, I understand that some may be skeptical about anything that preaches rapid results. However, there is a powerful, simple, free, quick fix that we already know and we can harness its power at any time: Research is finally demonstrating the super power of a SMILE.
Smiling is universal, meaning every culture and society uses it to express happiness. Therefore, it’s a language that a superhero can use to communicate with anyone, anywhere. Think of it this way: If you want to become a superhero for yourself and others just smile. You may be thinking, “OK Joeel, how powerful can a smile really be?”
It’s so powerful that research in Britain has demonstrated that:
A person who has manic depression (bipolar disorder) can be cured by sitting and smiling for 20 minutes a day over several months. No medication required.
Why? Because of the simple fact that between our two ears we have the best pharmaceutical company in the world—and we own it! The simple act of fake smiling can actually changes a person’s emotional set point and rewire the brain. Now that is pretty powerful!
Research also has demonstrated that people who smile can increase their life expectancy by 10 years.
I would also like to point out that these are additional healthy years, since smiling actually increases immune response and our ability to fight off diseases and promote healing. One of the reasons is because smiling reduces the chemicals that stress produces in our systems and replaces them with healthy chemicals. Some research has shown that up to 80 percent of illness can be manipulated mentally. This could explain why cultures that have limited medical resources, but experience less stress and smile more, have a significantly healthier population than more advanced, high-stress societies.
Another interesting study on the power of smiling was conducted on professional baseball players to evaluate how big their smiles were on their baseball cards. It was determined that the players with the biggest smiles lived longer by an average of eight years, had longer marriages, and experienced more success in their careers. We may be thinking that they had bigger smiles because they already had great marriages and successful careers, but this was not the case. This kind of study is backed by countless others showing that people who smile more get more promotions at work and tend to be more successful in life.
When you smile, it is like giving your mind and body a super boost of super fruit.
Smiling helps your brain process information faster, memorize more information, store the information for longer periods of time, improve critical thinking, and increase productivity, focus and creativity.
Still not convinced on the benefits of smiling? Then ask yourself this question:
“Would you rather be around a person who smiles or frowns the majority of the time?”
I vote for the smiley face. In fact, research has also shown that people who smile more often have more friendships, are better liked, are more approachable, and are even perceived as better looking. In other words, you can become more attractive just by smiling, without spending money to impress with fancy cloths, cars, makeup or surgery!
It has been demonstrated that smiling even helps those around you! For example, have you ever been around someone who has a beautiful contagious smile? The kind of smile that changes your whole attitude or shifts your energy? Well that is the same power that your smile has. In fact, the impact of your smile is not only limited to the person that you are smiling at. Even others who see you smile or are simply near you and can sense your positive vibes will receive the benefit as well. Wow! The ability to change people’s moods and health in a positive way without them being aware of what is happening. Now THAT is having a super power!
The best news is that the smile does NOT even have to be a real, genuine smile. Even if you are faking a smile, it still gives you all the benefits!
It’s called facial feedback. When you smile, your brain tells your body, “Well, he must be smiling for a reason; therefore, I must produce the chemicals that make him happy.” You’ve probably heard that chocolate is the highest producer of “happy chemicals” in our brains, which explains why some people reach for chocolate when they are feeling down. Not so!
The “happy chemicals” produced when smiling are equivalent to more than 2,000 bars of chocolate!
This means you can have the benefits without the calories! Other brain scanning studies have shown that simply smiling has the same impact on the brain as if someone gave you $30,000. You may be thinking, “Well, I think I would be happier with the $30,000.” I would point out that true lasting happiness comes from within and that the act of smiling is already producing that pure happiness, without the need for an outside investor.
What can you do to smile more?
- Become more aware of your body language and challenging yourself to make the effort to smile more during your day.
- Set yourself reminders to smile: For example, you can write sticky notes and place them where you are going to see them or set a reminder on your phone or in your planer.
- Watch funny movies or videos or find some funny jokes and share them.
- Do something that you loved to do as a kid, or just close your eyes and imagine that memory. The brain does not know the difference of whether the memory happened 20 years ago or if it is happening now.
- Create time for fun activities.
- Have a smile buddy: Talk to a friend or coworker and call each other out when the other isn’t smiling enough.
- Do Laughter Yoga
I am not saying that you should smile all the time. However, the more you get yourself to do it unnaturally, the more your brain and body will want to do it naturally. You are only aware of a small percentage of things that happen around you. Would you rather focus on the things that make you smile or the things that don’t? By creating that smile, your brain and higher self will look for more reasons to prove that the smile is real. If for nothing else, smile more just for the simple reason that it makes you feel good.
Until next time, I wish you many smiles, good health, amazing adventures in simplicity, many blessing, great relationships, and a state of gratitude.
Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed., Ph.D. (ABD) holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology. Joeel’s extensive career as a relationship coach includes certifications in P.R.E.P, a 30-year research-based program for couples, Nurturing Father’s curriculum, and Parenting 21st Century. Joeel is now taking a select number of Life, Relationship, and Entrepreneurship Coaching clients. Contact Joeel at firstname.lastname@example.org