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Healthy Minds Healthy College

The power of smiling

September 24, 2012

I remember walking in the neighborhood in Vegas where I lived when I was 18 years old.  I was enjoying my walk and smiled at the people passing by.  I decided to do my own experiment.  When people smiled back, if felt great.  If they didn’t, it was still all right because I was doing what felt right.

Did you know that we smile even while we are in the womb? 3-D technology now shows that developing babies smile.  After babies are born, they continue to smile (at the beginning in their sleep) and even blind babies smile in response to the sound of the human voice.  Isn’t that fascinating or what?

Have you ever wondered why being around children who smile frequently makes you smile more often? There is a high chance when we smile for people to smile back.  It would be very challenging to frown  when looking at someone who smiles.  Charles Darwin developed the Facial Feedback Response Theory which suggests that the act of smiling makes us feel better.  This theory is supported by a research done in Echnische University in Munich, Germany.  In 2009, scientists used fMRI (Functional MRI) imaging to measure brain activity in regions of emotional processing in the brain.  They found out that facial feedback changes the neural processing of emotional content in the brain and concluded that our brain’s circuitry of emotion and happiness is activated when we smile.

Unlike lots of chocolate, lots of smiling can actually make you healthier.  Smiling has therapeutic effects and is associated with reduced stress hormone levels (like cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine), increased health and mood enhancing hormone levels (like endorphins), and lowered blood pressure.

I am not finished yet.  It seems like smiling is one of the best things we could be doing.  Smiling makes us look good in the eyes of others.  A study at Penn State University confirmed that when we smile, we not only appear more likable and courteous, but we are perceived to be more competent.

Here is a brief summary of the stats about smiling:

  • When you smile, you look good and feel good
  • When others see you smile, they smile too
  • When others smile, they look good and feel good, too.

Well, we can all together start a smiling revolution! One thing, though, the smile you give has to be big and genuine.

In conclusion, smiling can improve not only your life, but also the lives of others.  It helps us live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

Mother Teresa said: “I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.”