Smiling: The Little Way to Make A Big Difference

The global pandemic stuck a wedge between individuals and their communities, making it increasingly challenging to reach out locally. Humans are an incredibly social species that rely on cooperation to thrive. The global pandemic, social distancing, and fear distinctly hindered our ability to do that. Even now that restrictions have loosened, we still feel a sense of isolation.

So what’s the simplest action we can take to counteract some of those roadblocks (with or without a mask on)?  Try a simple smile — for your neighbors, or even just for yourself!

The Effects Of Smiling

Mask mandates have been all over the place of late, but we can still spread positivity.

Smiling is the simplest way we can improve ourselves, our communities, and the world around us. There’s growing evidence that shows humans have an instinct for facial mimicry, which allows us to empathize with others’ feelings.

When you smile, your body releases three feel-good hormones: dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. They signal your body that you’re happy. Researchers found that with one smile, you can generate the equivalent brain stimulation from 2,000 chocolate bars. That one simple gesture gives yourself — and someone else — the equivalent pleasure from all that chocolate without it affecting the waistline.

Laughter and smiling have also been shown to improve relationships and make you more approachable. This increased approachability can cause people to engage with each other, in turn strengthening the bonds of communities and relationships.

It doesn’t stop there, smiling and laughter may cause you to live longer. One 15-year Norwegian study found that women with a strong sense of humor had a 48% less risk of death from all causes. The men in this study with a strong sense of humor were found to have a 74% reduced risk of death from infection. With one smile or joke, you could cause a positive domino effect in someone’s day.

Fake It Till You Make It

Naturally, there are always times when you feel you can’t smile. The good news is, you don’t have to actually mean it.

The muscles that cause you to smile still send the feel-good chemicals to your brain, whether you’re having the time of your life or stressing over the future. You can trick your brain (or someone else’s) into believing they’re happy.  All it takes is one simple gesture.

The World Needs Your Smile

Behind a mask or not, smiling is an excellent way to spread some feel-good energy (which we can all use more of). It’s contagious, makes us feel better, improves relationships, and can even cause us to live longer. So brush your teeth and spread some positivity!

-Aaron Lopex

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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