The power of a smile has been documented by authors and singers since time immemorial. When we feel great, a smile comes naturally. It’s an outward sign of joy, happiness, appreciation, amusement, excitement, or contentment. Scientists have found that smiling on purpose can help people feel better. Smiling on purpose changes brain chemistry. So it can be a big help to people who are dealing with depression and anxiety. In one study, researchers discovered that people who intentionally smiled, ended up feeling happy.
Ron Gutman, CEO of Health Tap wrote an interesting article called “The Untapped Power Of Smiling.” He referenced a study which examined the smiles of students in an old yearbook, and measured their well-being and success throughout their lives. By measuring the smiles in the photographs, the researchers were able to predict how fulfilling and long lasting their marriages would be, how highly they would score on standardized tests of well-being and general happiness, and how inspiring they would be to others. The widest smiles consistently ranked highest in all of the above.
In another surprising research project done by Wayne State University, they examined the baseball card photos of Major League players in 1952. The study found that the span of a player’s smile could actually predict the span of his life. Players who didn’t smile in their pictures lived an average of 72.9 years, while players with beaming smiles lived an average of 79.9 years.
3-D ultrasound technology now shows that developing babies appear to smile even in the womb. After they’re born, babies continue to smile, mostly in their sleep, and even blind babies smile in response to the sound of the human voice.
A smile is one of the most basic uniform expressions of all humans. Smiles have the same meaning in all cultures. More than 30% of us smile more than 20 times a day and less than 14% of us smile less than 5 times a day. Children are said to smile as many as 400 times per day! Have you ever wondered why being around children who smile frequently makes you smile more often? Two studies at Uppsala University in Sweden confirmed that other people’s smiles actually suppress the control we usually have over our facial muscles, compelling us to smile. They also showed that it’s very difficult to frown when looking at someone who is smiling. This occurs even among strangers.
In a study conducted in the UK, British researchers found that one smile can provide the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 chocolate bars. And unlike lots of chocolate, lots of smiling can actually make you healthier. Smiling has documented therapeutic effects and has been associated with reduced stress and lowered blood pressure. If that’s not enough, smiling also makes us look good in the eyes of others. A Penn State University study confirmed that when we smile, we not only appear more likeable, but we’re actually perceived to be more competent.
So whenever you want to look great and appear competent, reduce your stress and feel as good as when you’ve enjoyed a stack of chocolate bars, just SMILE!