Research shows that smiling does great things for the mind and body.
Unfortunately, most of the time, people are not at all conscious of what expression is on their face. Being mindful to turn a frown upside down can improve our physical and emotional well-being, and we can also influence the well-being of others. Pretty Cool!
Only by being in the present moment can we be conscious of what expression we’re wearing—it’s all about body awareness, which is an important part of mindfulness.
Here are some of the things researchers have learned about the power of a smile—
Smiling Can Lift Your Spirits and Protect Your Health
A smile improves our mood and the mood of those around us. When you smile, you activate Neuropeptides into your brain that help to combat the negative effects of stress, worry, and sadness. These tiny molecules allow neurons to communicate. Neurons tell our body when we’re sad, happy, excited, or scared—the mere act of smiling tells our body to release happy neurotransmitters—studies show that even forcing a smile can change your mood.
When you smile, dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitters, are all released in your brain. This relaxes your body and can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Endorphins also act as a natural pain reliever. And the serotonin can be a natural antidepressant and mood lifter. Anti-depressant pharmaceuticals also chemically influence levels of serotonin in the brain—a smile is a natural way of lifting your mood, without a prescription or any negative side effects.
A Smile is Contagious
You can have a positive impact on other people’s moods and happiness in their day, just by smiling at them. The cingulate cortex, an unconscious response area of your brain, controls your facial expressions. Whether you’re smiling because you’re happy or just mimicking back the smile offered to you, this is the spot in the brain that makes it happen.
A Swedish study showed that humans mimic the facial expressions of others. Shown pictures of people who wore fear, concern, or joy on their faces, participants tended to mimic those expressions without even thinking about it. Participants were also asked to frown when shown pictures of people who were smiling; it took effort to frown instead of smile. Your smile can trigger a chain of smiles—it’s kind of fun when you think about it :)
So Boost the Well-Being Quotient in the World with a Mindful Smile
We use our RHRN "Bump symbol" to remind us to keep our thoughts in the present moment and a smile on our face. You can shop for useful and decorative Bump items that will remind you to engage the power of your smile.
The next time you’re feeling a bit down, force a smile for ten seconds or more and see if it makes you feel differently? We’d love it if you leave a comment and tell us about it.