Today's post is by a guest blogger, Sarah Stevenson.
There’s Magic In Your Smile
By Sarah Stevenson
"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." ~Thich Nhat Hanh
It’s a rough morning. First, my alarm doesn’t go off. Then I’m late getting my son to school because another driver decides to roll into me. It doesn’t damage my car, but it completely wrecks my mood. Then I get to my doctors appointment only to realize I’m an hour early. Just great. It must be a case of the Mondays!
I decide to pop into little French cafe around the corner to grab a cup of tea while I’m waiting. As I sit under my little gray cloud, my pretty, young server Colette flashes me a dazzling smile that sticks there for the entire interaction. I can’t help but smile back. In fact, I even catch myself smiling while washing my hands in the bathroom. Suddenly my day doesn’t seem so bad. I finish my tea and head to my appointment equipped with a grin on my face, feeling as though I’ve slipped on a pair of rose-colored glasses. Today’s lesson? It turns out that when I smile, the world smiles back.
Scientist and spiritual teachers alike agree that the simple act can transform you and the world around you. Current research (and common sense) shows us that a smile is contagious (1). It can make us appear more attractive to others. It lifts our mood as well as the moods of those around us. (Merci, Colette.) And it can even lengthen our lives (2). So before you read on, slap a nice, genuine smile on that face of yours. You’ll thank me later.
How Smiling Affects Your Brain
Each time you smile you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness.
For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress (3). Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, excited. The feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well (4). This not only relaxes your body, but it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
The endorphins also act as a natural pain reliever - 100% organically and without the potential negative side effects of synthetic concoctions (4).