Smiling is as natural as a spring rain, and does you just as much good. But did you know that smiling also triggers activity in your brain from the same area that registers happiness?
How often to you smile in a day? You smile when you meet new people or run into an old friend.
You smile when you get a tax refund or hear a good joke. Let’s face it, smiling is a darn good exercise.
Your face has 44 muscles that allow you to make more than 5,000 different expressions, many of which are smiles.
Well, it turns out that the simple act of smiling sends a message to your brain that you’re happy. And when you’re happy, your body pumps out all kinds of feel-good endorphins.
This reaction has been studied since the 1980s and has been proven a number of times. In 1984, an article in the journal Science showed that when people mimic different emotional expressions, their bodies produce physiological changes that reflect the emotion, too, such as changes in heart and breathing rate. Another German study found that people felt happy just by holding a small pen clenched in their teeth, imitating a smile.
Ever wonder why are we always asked to smile in photos? Because people usually look their best—and happiest—when smiling. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 96 percent of American adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex. So the next time you are about to ask someone on a date, smile. It’ll make them feel happier (see No. 2), and you’ll already be more attractive in his or her eyes!
And think about this: Have you ever laughed without smiling? It’s pretty impossible to do. And it’s funny how a smile here and a smile there with friends can turn into a whole fit of hysterical laughter.
Numerous studies have been done on the health benefits of laughing, including how it acts like a mini workout that burns calories and works the abs. Laughter also helps blood flow, lowers blood sugar levels, reduces stress and improves sleep. It may also raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body, which helps boost the immune system. So the moral of this story is smile—and laugh—often!