A smile is a funny thing. Much has been written about it. Songs have been sung about it. One of the most famous paintings in the world features a mysterious smile. Artists, historians, psychologists and others continue to be fascinated by what Leonardo da Vinci captured in his portrait of Mona Lisa so many centuries ago, including that enigmatic smile.
Why is a smile such a powerful thing? When you see a genuinely happy face, it’s hard not to smile, it’s hard not to feel good. It’s almost infectious, like a yawn. What’s more, research reveals that smiling is not only good for you, but also good for your business. Need inspiration to smile more? Read on for a few of my favorite reasons that inspire me to take every opportunity to smile.
Smiling helps make you look younger
This is my favorite reason to smile. And, it’s true! Don’t believe me? Try this experiment. Grab a mirror and look at yourself. Now smile. Makes a difference, doesn’t it? In fact, a smile has been called the best (and cheapest) facelift. I’d have to agree!
Smiling improves your mood
Do we smile because we are happy or are we happy because we smile? Turns out, the answer is both. I have another experiment for you. Grab a pen, place it in your mouth and hold it in place with your teeth. Now try holding the pen without your teeth, rather just use your lips. Do you feel any different? You should, based on findings from an intriguing experiment. For this study, researchers recruited 130 students at universities in the USA and Germany. The participants were asked to either hold a pen between their teeth (which forces the facial muscles to smile) or between their lips (which forces facial muscles to pout) and then view cartoons. As predicted, the researchers found the smiling participants rated the cartoons funnier than those who had to frown.
Smiling helps decrease stress
In a separate study, researchers at the University of Kansas recruited 170 students to complete two different stressful tasks while holding a chopstick in their mouth in manner that produced a Duchenne smile, a standard smile or a neutral expression. (A Duchenne smile is considered a genuine smile that engages the muscles in the mouth, cheeks and eyes.) Compared to the neutral group, both smiling groups had lower heart rates while recovering from the stressful taskswith the Duchenne smiling group showing an advantage, suggesting that a sincere smile may be even more effective for stress recovery than a standard smile.
Smiling improves running
Over the years, Francesca and I have been avid runners, smiling our way through marathons. Now, we cheer others on, having a grand time. I just read a recent study published in the January 2018 issue ofPsychology of Sports and Exercisethat shows all that smiling has serious benefits for runners. In this study, university researchers in the United Kingdom found that smiling makes running feel easier for training runners, in part, by helping runners relax and reduce muscle tension.
Smiling helps us connect with others
A simple Google search returns countless quotes about the power of a smile to help us make genuine connections with others. One of my favorites is attributed to Victor Borge, the well-known musician, conductor and comedian: “A smile is the shortest distance between two people.”
To me, this is sage advice whether the goal is to build meaningful connections with family members, friends, business associates or customers.
With so many benefits to smiling, why not join me and give smiling a try? Cheers,
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