“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Have you ever smiled your way into a good mood?
I woke up in a great mood. I was on schedule, quickly checking things off my to-do list when the phone rang. It was bad news.
I could feel my whole body change in an instant. My shoulders drooped, my mouth turned down and I felt a sharp shift from and energetic flow that had been motoring me all morning to a weight that left me barely trudging forward.
Yes, it was bad news but it wasn’t like someone had died. Surely I would work it out and with time it would pass. But would I be stuck in this down mood until that happened?
I checked the time and it had been 4 hours since I got the call and still, I felt negative and short on energy. My tasks were quickly piling up and it was apparent to anyone that crossed my path that something was wrong.
I thought I can’t afford to waste time and drain my energy over this. The only thing I can do is make a plan and move forward.
How am I going to get myself past this stuck feeling and shake off this bad mood?
Then I remembered something I read that said the way out of any mood is to take action.
At that moment, I smiled. As I smiled I felt everything lift, my eyes became more alert, my breathing became deeper, every cell loosened up, and I no longer felt weighed down.
Rather, I felt my whole body pop up as if it were buoyant. I felt a shift mentally and physically. I wasn’t ignoring the problem, I still had to deal with it and yet I wasn’t feeling the physical effects of it because I consciously chose to smile.
I wouldn’t say I was jubilant but I was feeling a lot better.
Sometimes all we need to do is take one small action to change our mood or the course of our day. These small actions can have a profound effect on our health and even change the trajectory of our lives.
There’s a reason why we smile when we’re happy.
Smiles not only send a message to the outside world that we’re happy. Additionally, they are a reflection of what is happening to our bodies (our internal state). The smiles can actually initiate positive health effects.
By smiling I was changing what was happening to my physiology. I was literally making myself healthier by smiling.
7 Happy and Healthy Reasons to Smile
1. Smiling boosts your immune system
Studies show that smiling helps the immune system function better. When you smile your body relaxes. When you’re relaxed your immune system is able to function better and ward off colds. Add smiling to your list of cold preventions.
2. Smiling lowers your blood pressure
When you smile endorphins go up and your blood pressure comes down. It has been shown that you can actually see a measurable difference when you test your blood pressure both before and after smiling. Make smiling a daily practice and it will help bring down your blood pressure among many other benefits.
3. Smiling can reduce the intensity of the stress response
The stress response is designed to protect us but at a certain point, too much stress can have a profound negative effect on our health. A recent study found that smiling during brief stressors can help reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response. Next time you find yourself getting stressed when you’re sitting in traffic. Smile and use the time to lift your mood and improve your health.
4. Smiling is contagious
When you smile, those around you smile in response. This creates a mentally and physically positive environment and results in lots of shiny happy and healthy people.
5. Smiling changes your mood
On a biochemical level, smiling releases endorphins. These are neurochemicals which make us feel happy. The neurotransmitter serotonin is also released when we smile. Increased serotonin levels make us happier. Try to think of something negative while you’re smiling. It will be difficult to fully go into the negative mood.
6. Smiling is a natural pain healer
In addition to boosting your mood, endorphins and serotonin are natural pain relievers. Endorphins and serotonin work together to minimize our pain sensation.
7. Smiling can help you live longer
Researchers found that happier people were less likely to develop heart problems. They also found that those who smile can live 5-7 years longer than those that don’t smile a lot.
The simple act of smiling does far more than make you look friendly, it can have profound effects on your mental and physical health and create a happier and healthier environment for everyone.
So the next time you’re feeling down, worried, sad or anxious, take a moment and smile. Can you feel a shift? Don’t you just feel happier and healthier from the very act of smiling?