The topic is Tips and Tricks, everything from how I organize for travel to how I keep track of medications to what I do that is “unconventional.”
I SMILE. A lot. And often. As often as possible, I LAUGH or GIGGLE. This is NOT a cop-out. I really SMILE or LAUGH or GIGGLE as a way to cope and get by and feel better. I don’t actually always feel like smiling or laughing or giggling. But I do it to feel better, reduce my anxiety and help me put it all into perspective. Plus I just think I look younger that way
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,but
sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Benefits of Smiling and Laughing (that includes Giggling)
- Neurotransmitters called endorphins are released when you smile. These are triggered by the movements of the muscles in your face, which is interpreted by your brain, which in turn releases these chemicals. Endorphins are responsible for making us feel happy, and they also help lower stress levels. Faking a smile or laugh works as well as the real thing—the brain doesn’t differentiate between real or fake as it interprets the positioning of the facial muscles in the same way. This is known as the facial feedback hypothesis. The more we stimulate our brain to release this chemical the more often we feel happier and relaxed.
- Endorphins make us feel happier and less stressed. They also act as the body’s natural pain killers. For sufferers of chronic pain, laughing and smiling can be very effective in pain management, as can laughing off the pain when you bump an elbow or fall over.
- While the release of endorphins is increased, the stress hormone cortisol is reduced. Cortisol is more active when we feel stressed or anxious and contributes to the unpleasant feelings we experience, and by lowering it we can reduce these negative feelings.
- Laughing expands the lungs, stretches the muscles in the body and stimulates homeostasis. This exercises the body, replenishing the cells from a lungful of oxygen and gaining all the benefits of exercising the body.
- A good laugh can be an effective way to release emotions. A good laugh can help you release emotions, especially those emotions that you might bottle up inside. Everything looks that little bit better after a good laugh and life can be seen from a more positive perspective. Smiling and laughing have positive social implications as well.
- Smiling is an attractive expression, which is more likely to draw people to you rather than push them away. Smiling makes you appear more approachable. Interaction with others is easier and more enjoyable when smiles and laughs are shared, and these behaviors are contagious, making others feel better too, and make you a more appealing and attractive person to be around. This in turn will have a positive effect on your well-being.
- A happy, positive expression will serve you well in life. This is particularly true for challenging situations such as job interviews: a smiling, relaxed persona indicates confidence and an ability to cope well in stressful situations. This will also be of benefit in your career, building healthy relationships with colleagues and being seen in a favorable light by your employers.
To help you smile, here are some pictures of smiling dogs. Even dogs do smile!
For those who need proof, here are some references:
- Primitive emotional contagion. Hatfield, Elaine; Cacioppo, John T.; Rapson, Richard L. Clark, Margaret S. (Ed), (1992). Emotion and social behavior. Review of personality and social psychology, Vol. 14., (pp. 151-177). Thousand Oaks, CA, US: Sage Publications, Inc, xi, 311 pp.
- Abel E. and Kruger M. (2010) Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity, Psychological Science, 21, 542–544.
- Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett; 2009:258
- R.D. (2000). Neural correlates of conscious emotional experience. In R.D. Lane & L. Nadel (Eds.), Cognitive neuroscience of emotion (pp. 345–370). New York: Oxford University Press.
- Karren KJ, et al. Mind/Body Health: The Effect of Attitudes, Emotions and Relationships. New York, N.Y.: Benjamin Cummings, 2010:461.
- Facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research Phil Trans R Soc B June 12, 2011 366: 1638-1659.
- O’Doherty, J., Winston, J., Critchley, H. Perrett, D., Burt, D.M., and Dolan R.J., (2003) Beauty in a smile: the role of medial orbitofrontal cortex in facial attractiveness. Neuropsychologia, 41, 147–155.
- Sonnby–Borgström, M. (2002), Automatic mimicry reactions as related to differences in emotional empathy. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 43: 433–443.