There’s nothing better than walking into a room and seeing someone flash you a warm, friendly smile.
Makes you feel great, doesn’t it?
It makes the smiler feel wonderful, too.
In fact, smiling changes the physiology of your brain.
Researchers have found that when you smile, your brain keeps track of the activity.
The more you smile, the bigger an effect it has on your brain.
‘Why is that’, we hear you ask? It’s because the brain is naturally wired to look for any sign of negativity which might indicate a threat of some sort.
Logical, when you think about it. A frowning or angry face could lead to a physical attack or a threat to our food supply or shelter.
Useful in a prehistoric world where competition for resources was fierce.
In the modern world, that physiological trait can help cause us unhappiness and suppress our moods and energy.
If you smile, however, your brain reacts in a different way.
Smiling breaks that hard-wired negativity and rewires your brain for positivity.
The American author, researcher, and speaker Shawn Achor describes how smiling helps the brain scan the world for good things. It also helps us to feel energised.
He calls it the ‘positive Tetris effect’.
If you’ve played the computer game Tetris, you’ll know that after you turn it off, there is a tendency to still ‘see’ the block colours in your mind afterwards.
Smiling does the same thing, leaving us with positive patterns of thinking long after we’ve smiled.
The more smiling we do, the easier it becomes to train our brains to filter out negative thoughts.
On a cellular level, smiling can also help kick-start a profound change.
Biochemist Sondra Barrett’s book Secrets of Your Cells tells us that smiling also helps your cells release tension, reducing the stress on them.
And that my fiends has a massive effect on your overall well-being.
So, smiling more can have a huge effect on all areas of your life – from your health, relationships, and friendships to work and business.
A smile is also a key tool of communication.
Smiles can convey warmth, attraction, confidence, positivity, and competence, and it has been shown that people who smile a lot are seen to be more honest.
Need to find the happy? Slap on a smile…
Last but not least, here’s some really cool facts for you:
- It may not be caught on a prenatal scan, but babies start smiling in the womb. That means the baby’s systems are getting the benefits of smiling from as early as possible, which is great because the physical effects of smiling help us to reduce stress on the body. It decreases the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
- Smiling also releases endorphins which make us feel happier. So, a smiling baby is a happy baby!
- Socially, it’s also a really important tool to cement relationships. Our brains like to be in synch with the people around us and if they smile, our brains tell us we need to smile too, so smiling becomes contagious.
- In fact, 70% of people find smiling faces more attracting than non-smiling faces, studies show – so stop it with the duck pout selfies!
- All humans and some animals recognise smiles as a universal sign of happiness.
- And last but not least, scientists have identified 19 different types of smile (yes really…) – from the polite to the completely overjoyed.