For me, this might the best time of the year. It feels fresh, and everything arounds us is flowering– I love it, seeing all the colours decorating our surroundings! I think we all feel a bit lighter and better at this time, it brightens us up knowing summer is just around the corner! I love walking down the street smiling to people, that makes me happy! But then today, while I was walking in the park with one of my dogs, it was sunny and an absolutley beautiful day, I noticed that most people was walking looking down in the concrete. Not a single smile or no eye contact, I was a bit surprised. Are we really that afraid of looking a stranger in their eyes and give them a smile? or are we just so absorbed in our own little bubble that we forget to look at all the beauty around us?
I mean, I do have my stressful days where im totaly in my own mind, forgetting about everything else, but I got very few of those days as I know how much it benefits me to take those extra few minutes to look around me, observe the beauty around me, inhale fresh air and share my smile. I have conciusoly been working on this over the past few years, because it makes me feel good, and when I feel good I have a whole lot more to give as well. This is something my parents thought me already when I was a kid, but I only learned what it actually do with our body a few years back. Spring is the time of the year when my smile comes more naturally, and it feels great to smile, even when youre not in a good mood and you smile, you feel a tiny bit better, right? In fact - a smile actually throw a little feel-good party in our brain. Did you know this? The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness, isn’t that just great? I just love smiling to people, especially when I know it benefits both of us!
I came over a very intreseting research a few weeks back, that showed we should be smiling a whole lot more. The researched reviled that an adult smile on average only 20 times a day, while kids smile about 400 times a day! Wow – we surly need to learn some from the younger generation, they know how to be happy and healthy.
So what does it mean that a smile throws a feel-good party in our brain? How does that benefit us? For a starter, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides (ok this sounds a bit “technical” I know, but I’ll explain it as simple I can for you to understand) neuropeptides work toward fighting off stress. Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allows neurons to communicate. They are messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, excited. The feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when you smile and also when a smile flashes across your face. This not only relax your body, but it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure too. So why are adult only smiling about 20 times a day? We should be smiling all the time! I want to bring more awareness to smiling!
Did you know that the Serotonin release brought on by your smile serves a natural anti-depressant/mood lifter? and that Endorphins also act as a natural pain reliever – 100 % organically and without the potential negative side effects of synthetic concoctions. Research has also found that smiling people are more attractive. So if you will feel better, look better and you spread happiness to others – why holding back your smile??
With this knowledge - I look at my smile as a gift, I love giving people gifts, so whenever I’m around people I share my smile, even to strangers that I pass in the streets. I have to admit it felt a bit awkward at the beginning, but knowing that I give people a little feel-good party makes me feel good too and it doesn’t cost a damn thing. It’s a win-win situation.
Therefore, I’m challenging you to share you beautiful smile to at least 5 strangers a day for the next week, are you ready??
1. Primitive emotional contagion. Hatfield, Elaine; Cacioppo, John T.; Rapson, Richard L. Clark, Margaret S. (Ed), (1992). Emotion and social behavior. Review of personality and social psychology, Vol. 14., (pp. 151-177). Thousand Oaks, CA, US: Sage Publications, Inc, xi, 311 pp.
2. Abel E. and Kruger M. (2010) Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity, Psychological Science, 21, 542–544.
3. Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett; 2009:258
4. R.D. (2000). Neural correlates of conscious emotional experience. In R.D. Lane & L. Nadel (Eds.), Cognitive neuroscience of emotion (pp. 345–370). New York: Oxford University Press.
5. Karren KJ, et al. Mind/Body Health: The Effect of Attitudes, Emotions and Relationships. New York, N.Y.: Benjamin Cummings, 2010:461.
6. Facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research Phil Trans R Soc B June 12, 2011 366: 1638-1659.
7. O’Doherty, J., Winston, J., Critchley, H. Perrett, D., Burt, D.M., and Dolan R.J., (2003) Beauty in a smile: the role of medial orbitofrontal cortex in facial attractiveness. Neuropsychologia, 41, 147–155.
8. Sonnby–Borgström, M. (2002), Automatic mimicry reactions as related to differences in emotional empathy. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 43: 433–443.