“A smile is the shortest distance between two people.” –Victor Borge
Have you ever thought about the difference a smile can make—to yourself and to others? According to Mother Teresa, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
“Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.” –Steve Maraboli
A smile is universally understood. Your age, gender, race, and culture don’t matter—people recognize it’s a friendly gesture. Even infants can understand a smile. And did you know a smile can be heard? There’s a lot of evidence indicating when a smile is seen, it’s readily copied, but even more fascinating—researchers in Paris discovered auditory smiles (such as one “heard” over the phone) are unconsciously copied as well. Those who are born blind even smile in the same way as the sighted.
“Each time you smile, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain.” –Sarah Stevenson
A smile seems to affect mood. Though Charles Darwin first came up with the “facial feedback hypothesis” in the 1800s, science continues to provide evidence of a smile’s value. Recently, a team of psychologists looked at data from 138 studies and 50 years of testing to confirm facial expressions can impact feelings. In fact, the biochemical reaction of a smile brings dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, which also occur with laughter.
Dr. Norman Cousins confirmed these benefits during his bout with cancer and patient treatments. Many experts conclude, like laughter, even a fake smile has benefits. So, if you’re feeling down in the dumps or want to spread some cheer, just smile for a while.
“Smile and the world smiles with you.” –Stanley Gordon West
Just like laughter, a smile can create a chain reaction. Have you ever heard a quote on the importance of giving your smile away? There are a lot of them, to be sure. Basically, if you recognize someone else is having a bad day, you can make it better by giving them a smile. Try it—smile and see if others smile back. Who knew a simple curve of the mouth could be so encouraging?
“Smile—it increases your face value.” –Robert Harling
Not only is a smile contagious, but many say it contributes to success and improves appearance. Need proof? A recent study with goats demonstrates their preference for those with a smile (warning: reading this might make you smile). Hmm… looking younger, thinner, and more confident—why not wear a smile?
“Smile, it’s free therapy.” –Douglas Horton
Smiling boosts immunity and spreads happiness! That’s right—it can lower our blood pressure, enhance our mood, and even help us live longer. In fact, a university study seems to indicate smile intensity in photos can predict a long life. When scientists looked at the smiles of professional baseball players on their official MLB cards, they could accurately predict their life span, based solely on how “beaming” their smiles were. What more could you want?
“A smile costs nothing but creates much.” –Dale Carnegie
Though smiling is free, it carries a lot of power. Watch Ron Gutman’s TED Talk for more on its benefits. For example, British researchers discovered smiling stimulates our brains better than 2,000 bars of chocolate (it’s calorie-free!) and as much as receiving up to $25,000 in cash (how’s that for influential?)!
So, are you up for a challenge? Start the day by smiling at yourself in the mirror, then smile as you drive, walk, and work. Take note of the benefits! How did smiling make you feel? Did others smile back? Did anyone comment? Did you get a promotion? (No promises, by the way.)
Whether you smile and track the results for a day or a month, let us know how it’s working for you and those around you. Share what happens below. Who knows? Our results could show up in a science magazine someday. 😉