Sunday, September 29, 2013

How many times have you smiled today?  Five?  Ten?  One hundred?  Zero?  Did your smile stretch the corners of your mouth, bunch up your cheeks, and spread around the room.  Did you smile with your whole body or just your face?  Did your smile alter the organic chemistry inside your brain?  Was it fake or real?  While the act of smiling seems so automatic and absent of importance, I recently learned the power contained in a smile is anything but ordinary.

Ron Gutman spoke to the TEDxSiliconValley Conference in 2011 on the topic of smiles.  His short talk contained everything we need to make our days happier and our lives longer.  Please allow me to share a summary of the studies he presented.  

People who smile are viewed as more likable, courteous, and competent.  The brain activity created through a single smile is equivalent to eating 2,000 bars of chocolate or receiving $25,000 in cash and lacks the caloric consequences or tax penalties.  Smiling cleanses the blood stream of stress enhancing hormones and increases mood enhancing endorphins.  Smiles are evolutionarily contagious.  We are programmed to smile when others are smiling.  Children smile up to 400 times a day while nearly 50% of the adult population smiles around or less than 20 times a day.

The summary: find more time to spend around children as they will help you live a longer and happier life.

Smiles are also predictors of our marital success and our longevity.  A study of baseball cards suggested that people who pose with a beaming smile will live seven years longer than people who don’t.
Too bad hair size isn't an indicator of
longevity and happiness.

Flip back through your yearbooks and take a look at your smiles.  How long are you going to live?  Please don’t think you are condemned to live the life dictated by a high school or college yearbook.  You can right your ship if you feel it is headed in the wrong direction.  Just smile more.  Studies have shown that if you fake a smile, your body will actually adopt the feeling associated with the action, altering your mood and your outlook.  Fake it until it is real.

Smile as much as you can.  Smile for yourself.  Smile for other people.  Smile for no reason at all.  Smile because you can. 

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