Why you should be smiling more

Why you should be smiling more

Following National Smile Day, Megan Frost gives us 7 reasons to look happy.

I like to think of myself as a smiley person. I smile at random people in the street, I smile to myself, and sometimes I smile even when I’m not feeling happy. Why? Because smiling, and people smiling back at me, makes me feel good. In spite of this, I’ve realised recently that not everyone appears to enjoy smiling as much as I do. I mean, maybe the fact that I smile at strangers a lot makes me weird and annoying, or maybe other people are just miserable? Who knows… But, last week, Facebook took the trouble to remind its users that it was ‘National Smile Day’ (I had no idea it existed, either). This got me thinking, why don’t people smile more? Looking at the research, it suggests that on the whole, we’re not happy. In fact, we seem to be getting unhappier as time goes on. With problems such as rising tuition fees, high rent prices (especially for us Londoners), and the general stresses of everyday life plaguing our thoughts, it’s no wonder…

Smiling, however, could be a way to relieve some of this tension we feel as students on a daily basis. For me, that’s a good enough reason to smile in itself. But, if you still need convincing, there are a whole host of other reasons which might do the job.

  1. It’s good for your health. Yes, smiling has been proven to make us healthier people due to its ability to reduce stress levels. In 2012, a study revealed that those with the biggest smiles experienced a significant reduction in heart rate compared to those whose expressions remained neutral. Chopsticks were used to force them to smile… but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that!
  2. Smiling (even if you’re not actually happy), can train your brain into thinking more positive thoughts. According to Happiness Researcher, Shawn Achor: “If you smile often enough, you end up rewiring your brain to make positive patterns, more often than it does negative ones.” Proving that smiling is more than just a quick fix!
  3. Not only does smiling make you a more positive person, it also makes you a more productive person (and who doesn’t need this in exam period?!). Studies show that by diminishing negativity, smiling motivates us to work harder and can even enhance creativity.
  4. It gives the impression of confidence, which in turn adds to our success. Studies seem to suggest that the more you smile, the more likely you are to receive tips (if you work in a bar, for example) or to gain the respect of your colleagues.
  5. Smiling is contagious. So, not only does it have the power to lift your mood, but others’ too!
  6. It could save your life. Literally. In her book ‘Secrets of your cells’, Sondra Barrett claims that that when you let go of tension—an outcome that can be achieved through smiling—your cells let go of their rigidness. According to Barrett’s research, this could end up saving your life: there have been cases where cancer patients actually go into remission cancer after letting go of a big stress factor.
  7. And finally (as if saving your life isn’t a good enough reason to smile everyday), smiling is FREE! It costs NOTHING- no money, no time, and practically no effort- to smile.

Don’t get me wrong, it would be nonsensical to suggest that smiling could solve all of our problems (if it did then we’d live in a world where peace was universal and chocolate didn’t make you fat). But one thing it certainly WON’T do is make them worse. In fact, although smiling can’t lower your rent costs, it might make you feel less stressed about the problem, making you a happier person. Surely that’s a better situation to be in than tearing your hair out due to landlord-related stress, right?

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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