Self Improvement 16: Smile

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Smile!

As much as you can!

Smiling will make you feel better and stay positive. Make yourself smile and then think of something negative without letting go of the smile. It’s not easy because smiling is body’s way to say everything is OK.

Even if you have real negative reasons for being sad, forcing a fake smile on your face will make it better. Research by Tara Kraft shows that if you are not even aware that you are making a smiley face your body knows and reacts accordingly.

smiling showed widespread effects on cardiovascular recovery, with the smiling groups, regardless of awareness or type of smile, consistently returning closer to baseline levels of cardiovascular activity at the end of the recovery periods following both stress tasks. ~~Kraft 2011

Smiling makes you healthier

Smiling improves your immune system by releasing endorphins and making you more relaxed. Fight cold and flu with smiling. For the same reason smiling also lowers your stress levels. But that is not all smiling can reduce your blood pressure and it acts as a natural painkiller making us feel better.

On the other hand one study showed that patients who can’t smile due to facial muscle disorders are at increased risk of depressive symptoms as they lack emotional feedback from smiling and are unable to communicate positive emotion.

Drug yourself with smiling. No risk of overdose!

Smiling makes you more likable

From social aspects smiling will make your communications with others easier. It signals that you are someone who is pleasant and poses no threat. Smiling people also seem more successful, and this is a trait other like to associate with. Smiling is contagious, and in no time the whole group will be in the happier mood making social encounters more pleasant and fluid.

smile Andy Rooney quote

If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it. ~~Andy Rooney

Other research results show that smiling increases endurance while exercising. It reduces recovery time for patients who smile daily.

Start your day with a smile

Smile, whether you like it or not. Put a note on your bedside table or bathroom mirror that reminds you to smile. Take a minute and smile no matter what. If you are going through a particularly rough patch in your life fake it until you make it.

Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you’ll live — and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior.

Smile at least 10 times every day:

  • Greet everybody with a smile
  • Smile to yourself in the mirror
  • Smile to your boss
  • Smile to your family
  • Smile to strangers (Random Acts of Kindness)
  • Smile to co-workers
  • The clerk at the store also deserves a smile.

Start and finish your tasks with a smile. Some statistics tell us that children smile more than 400 times a day. Where have we lost all your smiles? Let’s get the smiles back and enjoy the benefits of this natural high.

Here are some of the benefits of smiling

Smiling improves your mood, even if it’s a fake smile. One study found that smiling helps to increase the positive mood when thinking about negative things (Change Negative Self-Talk).

Smile to relieve stress. Research showed that there are psychological and physiological benefits from smiling during the stressful events.

Laughter therapy increases the immune responses found a study that focused on women after the child birth.

This seems like a no-brainer but people with positive emotions are more likable. This means you have better relationships and stronger support network that will make you more positive. Then the positive feedback loop kicks in and your life will improve significantly.

More likable people have stronger marriages and better interpersonal skills. Smiling will also lead to longevity as the same study found.

Laughter is a pain medication that significantly raises the pain threshold. The likely reason is the endorphin release triggered by laughter. The study found that the pain-tolerance is due to laughter itself, not the positive state of mind it created.

How to laugh more?

You know those cat videos on the Interweb? Yep, watch more of those. Maybe cat videos are not your thing? Find something that is. Watch standup comedies that work for you. When you have a break spend some of that to watch 5 to 10 minutes of something that really makes you laugh.

For example, this video of how to identify a mad cow gets me every time:

 

Read jokes. Collect jokes. If you find a joke that makes you laugh, share that with your friends. Social laughter is even more beneficial. Maybe they will tell you their jokes, and you have something new to put in your joke collection. In no time you will be the funny person in your group.

What kind of exercise do lazy people do?
Diddly-squats.

I get plenty of exercise – jumping to conclusions, pushing my luck, and dodging deadlines.

Anton, do you think I’m a bad mother?
My name is Paul.

I thought I’d tell you a good time travel joke – but you didn’t like it.

Read a funny book. There are a lot of those, one of my all-time favorites is the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Good Omens form Terry Pratchett is another great one.

Brute force yourself to smile. Simply force your smiling muscles to work and keep that expression for some time. If you can then try to focus on positive thoughts during that exercise. Or you can focus on the people who positively influence your life.

Smile more

If you are not smiling all the time, then you still have room for improvement. Fill your life with laughter and smiles, and you will improve your outlook on life and those around you.

Now smile, because you can and make that note that says “Smile!”, and put it where you can see it!

 

____________________________
Image: Jackie Martinez (#31103) by Mark Sebastian
Image: Andy Rooney by Stephenson Brown

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