Smile More to Live Longer

Wellness

We all do it. Put on a happy face throughout the day, whether it be genuine or not. Maybe you laughed at a joke. Smiled at a baby. Or just, simply, faked it to be polite. The bottom line is, no matter why or how you do it, there are countless benefits to smiling, especially when it comes to your health. In fact, studies have shown that smiling can help you live better—happier—longer. 

Smiling yet? Read more to see how boosting your smile can help you rev up your health.

  1. Gift yourself a better mood. When feeling down in the dumps or negative,
    wearing a smile can perk up your mood. That’s because every time you smile, you
    activate good-feeling messengers to your brain. While these messengers can make you feel a range of emotions, your smile auto-selects happiness, releasing
    dopamine, serotonin and endorphins that take you one step closer to a better day. 
  2. Lower blood pressure and heart rate. While it’s true that smiling through
    laughter causes an initial increase in heart rate, it’s followed by a period of
    muscle relaxation, which actually decreases your heart rate and blood pressure.
    Reap the health benefits of smiling by making it a habit to schedule a good laugh each day to help reduce your risk of developing heart disease in the long run.
  3. Dissolve stress away. Now that you’ve moved your heart rate down with positive
    feelings, you’ve also lowered your overall stress level. Keeping stress away
    makes for a healthier body and a happier you. Flex your smile muscles often for
    consistent results.
  4. Strengthen your immune system. According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thoughts
    and laughter release signaling molecules in your brain that fight illnesses,
    while negative thoughts decrease your body’s immunity. For that reason, medical
    settings often strive to feature positive environments for their patients.
    Doing so promotes healing and should be prescribed morning, noon and
    night. 
  5. Live a longer life. No need to search far for the power of longevity.
    A 2010 study that focused on photos of major league baseball players found
    that smiling and positive emotions are associated with longer life
    spans. Next time you need to validate your hard work for a longer life,
    just look in the mirror and smile.
  6. Build your relationships. We tend to gravitate to people who smile,
    partially because they often make it easier to maintain the friendship. In
    fact, one study revealed that people who display positive emotions, have more
    stable marriages and interpersonal skills. This also goes for better bonding
    and cooperation within a group setting, too, enhancing relationships with
    people in the workplace.
  7. Fight pain. The endorphins your release when you smile are 100% natural
    painkillers produced by your own body, without the negative effects of
    medication. One study found that social laughter significantly increases
    your pain threshold, creating a higher pain tolerance. Try out the theory
    yourself the next time you face routine bloodwork, an injury or ailment.

Make the Most of the Benefits of Smiling

Skip the news. Many of today’s world topics can take the steam out of anyone’s smile. Turn off the chatter and tune into the positive with good music or people you love.

Be with happy people. Smiling is contagious. So, find a friend with a sparkling smile and hang out for a while. Build the momentum by asking others to join, sharing the sunshine and peak serotonin levels.

Watch something funny. Finding the right movie comedy or blooper video may be all you need to tickle your funny bone. Remember, laughter is the best medicine – and now we know why! 

Fake a smile — your brain doesn’t know the difference! Even if you don’t feel like smiling, do it anyway. You’ll fool your brain into releasing endorphins and benefit from the good vibes they can bring. Repeat often.


 

Resources:
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.), Cognitiveneuroscience of emotion (pp. 345–370). New York: Oxford University Press.

Strean, William B., Laugher prescription, Can Fam Physician. 2009 Oct; 55(10): 965-967

smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/simply-smiling-can-actually-reduce-stress-10461286/#4S11Qu3Ao9TXqgAc.99

Ernest L. Abel, Michael L. Kruger, Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity

(February 26, 2108). Psychological Science, doi.org/10.1177/0956797610363775

Dunbar R.I.M., Baron R., Frangou, A., Pearce E., van Leeuwen E., Stow J., Partridge G., MacDonald I., Barra V. and van Vugt M., Social laughter is correlated with an elevated pain threshold, Publi