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Smiling Is Really Contagious

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7 Sep 2017 - General

“You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile”, sang the famous Nat King Cole in 1954, among many other lovely sentiments from the song that encapsulates the inexplicable value of this simple facial expression. We often underestimate its profound effect on our mindset and our long-term well-being, but it’s never too late to start using it to rebuild our positivity. Finally, can there be a more appealing strategy for self-growth than something so pure and genuine as a smile?

A smile can open doors

A genuine smile is a wordless security confirmation: all clear. Your brain loves smiles, finds them reassuring, and as a result, you will feel more comfortable and safer in a situation where you’re surrounded by people who smile. And vice versa, as you smile to others, they will find you more approachable and trustworthy, which may lead to new friendships and closeness you otherwise would have never enabled.

On the other hand, we all have demons that often prevent us from giving a smile to the one who needs it most – to ourselves. Even if it’s a forced one to begin with, when you look at your smiling reflection in the mirror, your brain has a chance to “rewire” and change your mindset by releasing a slew of happy hormones. And perhaps that’s the door that you need opened the most.

Live long and prosper

The impact of a genuine, or Duchenne smile (the one where your eyes sparkle and muscles around the eyes contract) spans across your entire life. A three-decade-long study showed that women who nurtured their Duchenne smiles in their early twenties were happier in their fifties.

Another study showed a correlation between the intensity of a person’s smile and their longevity. In short, those who smiled more prominently and frequently lived longer, showing just how much such a primal human expression can impact your life.

Hygiene and happiness

There is no doubt that a beautiful smile is first and foremost a healthy one, but how deeply intertwined are the notion of your personal happiness and your hygiene habits? As smile-obsessed as we are, another study was conducted to show that students who had healthier gums and better brushing habits were happier and more successful than their less teeth-friendly counterparts.

It’s natural to shy away from frequent smiles if we’re unhappy with the health or appearance of our teeth, but the sooner you develop healthy dental hygiene habits, the more you’ll be able to show off those pearly whites! So, set up that checkup with your dentist, find out if you need gingivitis treatment, or if you should floss more often and change your brushing technique. Who knows, you might be just a few smiles away from improved self-confidence.

Catch the smile fever

It’s so much more than a mood-booster. It elevates your tolerance to stress, making you more resilient to future hardships, and it fundamentally changes your brain all the way down to your thinking patterns. When you smile more, your brain stops using the loop of negativity as a natural defense mechanism, and you slowly switch to a more optimistic outlook, and instead of looking for reasons to be upset, your brain finds those to make you happy.

Even more importantly, you won’t leave anyone indifferent, nor will you stay immune if you surround yourself with likeminded people who smile a lot. We as social creatures have a tendency to mirror the body language of those around us and smiles are no exception. Without an inkling of exaggeration, smiles truly are contagious, so stay with people who make you smile and whose smiles will lift your spirits in return.

The next time you get up on the wrong foot, or those demons of yours won’t let you be, find the nearest mirror and flash yourself a wide smile. Then give it to someone else, and as soon as they return the favor (which they undoubtedly will), that eye-sparkling Duchenne grin will take over your entire facial territory to make room for happiness.

Just go with the flow and embrace the smiling fever as your best blues-remedy and the best gift you can give yourself, especially on a day that feels unsmileable. That’s when you’ll need it the most.