You might’ve guessed that smiling can make you happier … but did you know it also helps you live longer?
Smiling also helps with attraction and happiness in more ways than you may have imagined. Looking for a romantic partner, or a new job this year? Then, get ready to flash those pearly whites!
More than a century ago, philosopher Charles Darwin and scientist William James suggested we might be able to adjust our mood simply by assuming the facial expressions representative of our goal. The first step to happiness is to start smiling!
Ever since Darwin and James proposed their theories, scientists have researched and discovered some interesting side effects to smiling along the way.
- Smiling makes you more attractive: Research suggests we’re more attracted to people who smile than those who do not. While scientists aren’t exactly in agreement as to why this may be, there’s a perception that a smiling person makes others around them relaxed and happy. Basically, your smile is contagious … and therefore welcoming.
- Smiles boost the immune system: It’s all about the neuropeptides, they say. Smiling (and also laughing) release these neuropeptides which help reduce stress. The result is less taxation on your immune system so you can remain healthy to combat any illness or stress that may come your way.
- Smiling enhances your mood: Smile-science has a bit of a “chicken or the egg dilemma.” Does a smile make you happy, or do you smile because you’re happy? We can assume the latter is true, but what about the former? Recall those neuropeptides we mentioned earlier? Well, according to Psychology Today, when we smile, “feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released.” Your body relaxes, while your heart rate and blood pressure lower. This flood of feeling then places us in a better mood. Not bad for just crinkling up the corners of the mouth!
And, what about helping you live longer? Well, if the above three reasons aren’t enough for you, it seems, that, yes … smiling more can help you live a longer life. And the proof appears to be in the research. In 2010, a team of researchers aimed with an odd source material (The Sporting News Baseball Register), examined historical photographs of baseball players – tracking smile and life statistics throughout their lifetimes. From 1952 onward, these intrepid scientists crunched the numbers (and smiles), and discovered that, yes indeed, smiling did help these chaps live longer, healthier lives. They also remained married longer. Pretty neat, huh? You can check out a bit of the story on this fascinating study at Pacific Standard Magazine.
So, to wrap things up … we’ll leave you with this nugget of wisdom from cinema’s happiest of happy characters, Buddy, played by Will Ferrell in the feel-good Christmas film, Elf.
“I just like to smile! Smiling’s my favorite. Go forth and smile!”