The Power of a Smile

When we smile, our body releases endorphins. Dopamine, serotonin are all the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters that get activated.

The mere act of smiling can change our brain chemistry too, and spur a powerful chemical reaction in the brain that makes us happy. According to Ron Gutman, the author of ‘Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act’, British researchers found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulations as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate, (I find that hard to believe!). There are numerous health benefits associated with a smile too, in dealing with stress, panick attacks, blood pressure, and even living a longer life. (A study from London University College stated that happy, cheerful people are 35% more likely to live longer). Moreover, smiling adds luminosity to our face, and makes us have a ‘natural glow’.

All that being said, there is so much magic a flash of a smile can do!

I recently read a chapter of the book, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie. In that, he explains a really profound example of the inducing power of a smile. So here’s a short story:

There was a veterinarian whose waiting room was full of clients waiting to have their pets inoculated. No one was talking to anyone else and everyone were just hoping they would be anywhere but there, sitting and doing nothing. There were about six or seven people dejectedly waiting when a young woman with her nine months old baby and a kitten entered the room. She sat down next to this distraughted gentleman who was irritated by the time taking service. A few moments later, the nine months old baby just looks up at him and gives him a big, heartwarming smile and the next thing he knows, a smile strikes across his face too! Very soon, the entire lifeless room lights up and boredom is converted into happiness.

So we can very clearly see that this outward sign of contentment is even capable of influencing others around us. My sister and I sometimes also like to play a game where we smile at people and see how many people smile back. Most of the time, there are so many people who give a genuine smile back to us 🙂

I also find people who smile so much more attractive than people who have dull, tedious, subdued looks on their faces. Many people have a gloomy, despondent outlook on life. They are sour, cynical as well as cantankerous. On the other hand, when you smile, people treat you differently. You are viewed as someone who is attractive, relaxed, optimistic and sincere. A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing an attractive, smiling face activates our orbitofrontal cortex, which is a region in our brain that processes sensory rewards. So when viewing a person smiling, we actually feel rewarded. What’s more, I’m pretty sure we all have heard that smiles are ‘contagious’!

This was just a short insight of the magic behind smiling, as I like to call it: The Power of a Smile, indeed capable of doing a lot. Share your smile with the world.  After all, it is a free therapy, good for you and even better for influencing others around you!

“Beauty is power, a smile is its sword” – John Ray

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