You might’ve guessed that smiling can make you happier… but, live longer? Yep. We’ll take a look at some of the recent research into smile science that says it’s perhaps some of the best and easiest medicine you could ever prescribe for yourself for long-lasting health. And, think about it – what other medicine actually makes other people feel great as well!? Smiling helps with attraction and happiness in more ways than you imagined. Looking for a romantic partner, or a new job this year? Then, get ready to flash those pearly whites!
More than a century ago, philosopher Charles Darwin and scientist William James suggested we might be able to adjust our mood simply by assuming the facial expressions representative of our goal. So, for example, if we wanted to work our way toward happiness, the first step we needed to take was to start smiling. Want to feel awful? The fastest way to get there is to summon up a frown. Ever since this discovery, science has been playing with the idea, and they’ve discovered some interesting side effects to smiling along the way. Smiling makes you more attractive: Research suggests we’re more attracted to people who smile than those who do not.
While science isn’t exactly in agreement as to why this may be, there is a perception that a smiling person tends to elicit a relaxed and happy feeling in the person viewing the smile. Thus, the smile is – in a sense – contagious … and therefore welcoming. It boosts the immune system: It’s all about the neuropeptides, they say. Smiling (and laughter most critically) release these neuropeptides which control a certain aspect of brain functionality and help to reduce stress. The result is less taxation on your immune system, so you can remain healthy to combat the illnesses and stressors that may come your way. Smiling enhances your mood: Smile-science has a bit of a “chicken or the egg dilemma.” Does a smile make you happy, or do you smile because you’re happy? We can assume the latter is true, but what about the former? Recall those neuropeptides we mentioned earlier?
Well, according to Psychology Today, when we smile, “feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released” relaxing your body and lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. This flood of feeling, then, in effect, places us in a better mood. Not bad for just crinkling up the corners of the mouth a bit. And, what about helping you live longer? Well, if the above three reasons aren’t enough for you, it seems, that, yes … smiling more can help you live a longer life. And the proof appears to be in the research. In the 2010 Journal of Psychological Science, a team of researchers aimed with the odd source material (The Sporting News Baseball Register), examined historical photographs of baseball players – tracking their smile and life statistics throughout their lifetimes. From 1952 onward, these intrepid scientists crunched the numbers (and smiles), and discovered that, yes indeed, smiling did help these chaps live longer healthier lives. They also remained married longer. Pretty neat, huh? You can check out a bit of the story on this fascinating study at Pacific Standard Magazine.
So, to wrap things up … we’ll leave you with this nugget of wisdom from cinema’s happiest of happy characters, “Buddy” played by Will Ferrell in the feel-good Christmas film, “Elf.” The line? “I just like to smile! Smiling’s my favorite.” Go forth and smile!