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May 13

The Power of Smiling

We all know that smiling can make us feel better – right?  But is this short-term and temporary, or long-term?  BOTH!

That’s the good news reported in Forbes Magazine in this insightful article. Ron Gutman’s research shows that smiling has positive short-term effects such as increased feelings of well-being and general happiness.  In addition, a smile brings about chemical reactions in our bodies that lead to better health long-term, not just avoidance of illness.

Though I have read about positive psychology, I still learned some surprising facts from Ron’s article:

  • Research scientists found that a broad, genuine smile is a predictor of well-being and success throughout life, AND also a predictor of longevity!  They discovered this by measuring smiles in yearbook photos (30-year study) and professional baseball players on their baseball cards in 1952, then checking in with them over decades.
  • In another study scientists scanned the brains of smiling people before and after Botox injections to suppress their smile muscles.  They found that when people could not smile it affected the processing of emotional content in their brain.  The study concluded “that our brain’s circuitry of emotion and happiness is activated when we smile!”

I have long wondered whether smiling makes us feel good, or only that feeling good makes us smile.  Inspired by this Forbes article, I Googled around.  The answer is YES!  as outlined in this article.  Even “self-created” smiles can make us feel good, or feel better when we are down–just another example of how Joy is an Inside Job.

Is it a far stretch to conclude that smiling can help us keep an Open Heart?

Two notes:

–  Even positive psychology tells us to honor our true feelings and not avoid negative emotions when they are warranted.  And, there are many times when we can choose which direction to go.  This article shows that we also have an impact on those around us.

–  Years ago a neighbor opened a wonderful restaurant and wine bar in Boston called “Les Zygomates”, which roughly translates from French to mean “the muscles in your face which make you smile.”  To this day I cannot thinkof those words without smiling.

As always, thanks for reading and please share your smiley stories!

About the author

Lisa Hamaker

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