Updated: Feb 22
I originally wrote this post in 2014 as a guest on the Heal Thyself blog. In this post, I share 9 Reasons to Smile and how it can affect our moods, our health, and how it uplifts ourselves and each other.
When I rewrote this post for this site, I was enrolled in advanced training for my industry and this week's homework is on nonverbal cues and language... I consider myself observant of others' non-verbal language but sometimes I am oblivious to what messages I send or how I come across, my presentation, if you will. For example, I tend to cross my arms often, typically, because the temperature is cold but sometimes, I find I am just comfortable crossing my arms in front of me. I am tall and have long arms - taller folks know what I'm talking about! I had learned previously that having arms crossed in front of our body can appear that we are not interested or are bored. Plus I learned that uncrossing legs and arms helps improve memory! So there's even more reason to work on my outward presentation and be more aware of my body language.
In 2020, everyone across the globe felt our "worlds" changing and even today at the time of this post, we are still acclimating to a different environment. The loss of human connection hit some deeply. Many of us connected online. I mentioned above that sometimes I was oblivious to the messages I was sending with my body language. Before friends may have asked, "Are you OK?" or "Is something wrong?" In the virtual world with video conferencing, it gave me an opportunity to be more aware of my facial expressions. I attend a weekly Girls' Night In event on Zoom and I have ample opportunity to pay attention to what my face is saying.
In the recent weeks, one thing I've incorporated is when I'm feeling blah or when I am focusing on a task (and I have that serious look), I force myself to smile and it loosens my face, it perks me up, and it gives me a change in thought. It oftentimes prompts me to take a break. Get up. Get a snack. Check in with those around me, etc.
Let's talk smiling...
Are your smiles big with your teeth showing or are they on the serious side, social, but still pleasant? It doesn't matter what your smile looks like as long as it's genuine.
L-R: My sister's felt smile and my social smile (2013).
9 Reasons to Smile 1. It's an instant mood lifter. Has anyone ever said to you, "Smile when you're talking to someone on the phone?" It's because the other person can pick up that you're smiling. If you have a difficult call to make, try smiling while dialing the number and then throughout the conversation as you speak. Smiling while you're speaking softens your tone. It's kind of difficult to sound mad when you're smiling.
2. They say it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown. I bet you've heard something along those lines floating around. But this concept (1) carries little weight. Why? Because we all smile differently. However, I surely would prefer to have the lines on my face when I age be from smiling. Wouldn't you? 3. Like food and music, smiling brings people together. It's a universal sign; it is recognized by every nation. And, babies smile as soon as they're born. Matter of fact, if you've chosen to get an ultrasound while you were pregnant, your baby in utero may have cracked a smile. Smiling is innate. 4. Smiling breaks down barriers and takes the edge off of meeting a group of new people. Picture this: You walk into a meeting with a group of unfamiliar faces; do you smile or keep your head down? Maybe both. I bet though if you smile, you'll be received as warm and friendly. Smiling can be used to establish an alliance between people. Some may even say that smiling shows a sign of weakness. Some people may even feel they smile at the wrong times like when they're nervous or anxious or even scared. There's something called self-prescribed laugh therapy in which someone laughs when they're sensing bad vibes or like in our home, laughing in silly ways to make the whole family laugh. Perhaps we can use smile-therapy when we want to trick our brain into feeling better, different, happier, calmer...
5. Begin your day with a smile. Some say, "Fake it 'til you make it" - but let's change that mindset. Consider it a method to get your in a daily habit by practicing it. How? At some point in your day find 5 minutes and force yourself to smile continuously. Sounds easy, right? I recommend doing it when you're getting ready for the day and definitely try it before an interview! Start your day smiling. You will smile throughout the day! Promise!
6. Smiling boosts confidence. When you're smiling at people, you're looking into their eyes and even if for a split second, you're connecting; however, if you're frowning, you may be looking down or away. There's no connection to be made. As a people, most of us want that warm connection. We want to matter. And bottom line, we want to be seen, heard, and valued.
7. Smiling boosts the immune system because it naturally reduces stress (2). As many of us know, stress is one of the components that we must keep in check if we want to live our healthiest life. Some stress is good because it keeps us alert and it primes the brain for optimal performance (3). It also releases endorphins which contributes to a healthier outlook. Smiling can help relax your body and reduce physical pain (4).
8. Smiling can lead to laughter. I mean you're already half way there. A smile is a quiet laugh. Sometimes when I smile at my husband, he asks me, "What are you laughing at?" I think --- I'm just smiling. But, he's onto something. A smile could be construed as a quiet laugh and quite frankly, laughing is just as good for the soul for, it, too, boosts moods! Learn 4 benefits of stress management from adding more laughter into your day (5).
9. Smiling is contagious.
Go out and catch one and pass it on! When active listening, it is recommended that we mirror each other's expressions (6). It shows agreement and allows us to connect and feel heard. Smiling helps everyone feel better. I also like Science Daily's take on eye contact. In some cultures and in some people, continuous eye contact can be obtrusive and even disrespectful. It's about balance and I think smiling is the universal key to connecting with others.
What new tip did you learn about today and which one will you try adding tomorrow? Tell me about it by leaving a comment.
6. Science Daily. (New)
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, or prevent any disease, condition, or ailment. This information is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Speak with your healthcare provider to see how/if it pertains to your individual needs.
The purpose of this blog is to offer support for your health goals. As of July 2022, Jessica David is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach. Jessica has ten years of coaching experience and you can consider her an encourager, someone in your corner, a friend, and a professional.
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