As I’ve indicated in past articles on this page, smiling is good for physical and mental health. It causes a cascade of supportive chemicals to fill the human body. They include neurotransmitters, messengers traveling between your brain and body parts, called endorphins. They’re the happiness chemical and the reason that you feel relief after a pleasant event, a good bout of exercise, hearing good news and accomplishing goals. The bonus is that endorphins lower our perception of pain and stress. The chemical makes us more resilient physically and mentally.
Smiles clue people into the fact that you’re safe to approach and even rather appealing. Nobody wants to talk with pouters. Relationships work better with smiling people. They invite interactions, signaling everyone that things – and people – are OK when they spend time with you.
The more you smile the more you strengthen your immune system, too. Yes, you’re less likely to become sick when you smile often. You initiate a feedback loop inside your body which tells all the parts that “We’re good to go!” The reason for this is that smiling causes the body to produce neuropeptides, the chemicals called dopamine, endorphins (see above) and serotonin. They help your neurons to communicate with each other. Curving your lips upwards literally causes your body to function at maximum potential. Laughter can only improve the situation, according to this MAYO Clinic study.
When you need to improve your mood and life, smile on purpose. Have fun gazing into a mirror to get things just right, and then hit the streets with your grin. People will be smiling back at you, including total strangers.
Giggling is good for you, too. Treat yourself to comedies, feel-good pampering, and humor. Share jokes or amusing stories with likeminded people. All of the above will lead you to a sense of joy and that is the best possible state of being. Your lungs will fill with fresh air, your muscles will relax, your heart will work better (watch that blood pressure drop!) and your stress levels will plummet.
If you have trouble feeling upbeat, do things to make your mood brighter. Exercise, even if all you do is to take a walk. Spend time with friendly animals, a known stress buster. Bask in natural surroundings such as parks, gardens, forests, and beaches. Enjoy sunshine, sand, surf, and fresh air cascading on your skin. Therapists are increasingly prescribing these activities instead of mood-lifting medications. Skip the bill and heal for free. Go outdoors, use your muscles, smile, and have fun. As a matter of fact, do all that even if you’re in therapy and watch as your therapist recognizes your improving level of happiness over time.
Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.