‘Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.’
– Thich Nhat Hanh
October 7 is World Smile Day, a holiday established by Harvey Ball, an artist who created the smiley face in 1963.
The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits both our health and our overall happiness.
Smiling is literally contagious — when you smile at someone, they can’t help but smile back because the part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression resides in the cingulate cortex, an unconscious automatic response area.
Smiling makes us appear more attractive to others. Researchers at the Face Research Laboratory found that both male and female subjects were more attracted to images of people who smiled than those who did not.
Smiling also lifts our mood, and current research suggests that smiling makes us healthier and may even lengthen our lifetimes. Smiling releases neuropeptides that fight stress. When we smile, dopamine and endorphins — the body’s feel-good neurotransmitters — are released, which in turn relaxes our body and can lower our blood pressure and heart rate. These endorphins relieve pain naturally and the serotonin released when you smile can act as an antidepressant. Take that, big pharma!
So, as the late, great, Zig Ziglar said, “Be helpful. When you see a person without a smile, give them yours.”
Onward and Upward!
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