There Are a Lot of Reasons to Smile

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You're walking down the sidewalk on a cloudy day, feeling rushed because you're late to an appointment. Thus, you're walking fast with your head tilted down to ensure that your quickened pace doesn't cause a misstep in the cracked cement. The flowers along the side of the walkway are swarming with bees. You hate bees. They sting.

You look up for just a moment and see a stranger walking in the opposite direction. She looks at you and smiles. You tender a smile in return and continue on your way, but something has changed. You feel it. Your outlook has improved for the better. You no longer feel as rushed. The day doesn't look as dreary. The flowers smell wonderful. Thank God for pollinators.

Ah, the power of a smile... it's much greater than face value.

Smiling is one of the most basic human expressions, yet its effects are large and overwhelmingly positive. According to studies, a third of adults smile more than 20 times a day and children smile as much as 400 times a day. That's a lot of smiles, and a lot of beneficial effects.

Smiling can help reduce the level of stress enhancing hormones, increase the level of endorphins, and lower blood pressure. It also has many other effects:

  • In a March 2011 TED lecture, Ron Gutman announced that a British study found that just one smile evokes as much brain stimulation as up to 2000 bars of chocolate. The same study discovered that one smile is also as stimulating to your brain as receiving 16,000 British Pounds ($25,700 USD).
  • A Penn St. study discovered that smiling makes you look more competent.
  • Smiling is evolutionarily contagious and suppresses facial muscle control.
  • People are more likely to remember your name if you smile when you meet them.
There's a lot of good reasons to smile, but could it actually make you live longer? In his TED lecture, Ron Gutman revealed findings from a 2010 study of pre-1950s baseball cards. The study found that the span of the player's smile on his baseball card was actually linked to his lifespan. The average lifespan for a player with no smile was 72.9 years. The average lifespan for a player with a slight smile was 75 years. The average lifespan for player with a beaming smile was 79.9 years!

Smile for your friends. Smile for yourself. Smile for your pets. Smile for the camera. Just smile!

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