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Smiling Your Way To A Healthier Lifestyle

Smiling Yellow Cube on Brown Pavement


. 5 min read

Did you know that the human brain can identify and appreciate a smiling face from 300 meters away? This statistic is in fact backed by Forbes and is considered to have a large positive impact on a person’s body language.  

Irrespective of the language, culture, or location, a smile conveys the same meaning. A smile can go a long way in any conversation or circumstance, leaving a lasting impression on those you interact with. 

Smiling influences and stimulates our psychological and biological functions. This blog captures the nuances behind a smile, the power of a smile, and the lasting impression it makes for you and everyone around you! 

How can one define a smile? 

Well, by definition, a smile is a facial expression in which the eyes brighten and the corners of the mouth curve slightly upward. It’s expected to express emotions like amusement, pleasure, approval, or sometimes even scorn. 

The definition of a smile terms this activity as a method of conveying a universal message associated with enjoyment and pleasure. 

Not surprisingly, the concept and meaning of a smile are similar for all living organisms. Research shows that most animals have the ability to smile, with some more developed species like dogs having the ability to assimilate and understand humour. 

A smile is almost primitive and reflexive in nature. This emotion is inherent in humans and is ingrained in our DNA. In fact, a newborn baby is capable of portraying a smile immediately after birth while sleeping and their first social smile occurs a couple of weeks later. 

Did you know that a simple smile burns more calories than a frivolous frown? The logical explanation for this is that the mouth often falls into a natural grim expression when your body is at rest. Thus, it takes an extra effort to smile though you would use fewer muscles for this activity as against a hard frown. You need only around 13 muscles to smile when compared to the 50 muscles that are deployed for a full frown. 

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What brings a Smile to the face? 

This emotion is triggered by different external and internal factors that could vary from person to person. Almost anything positive can bring a smile to your face. Imagine a satisfying day at work, or the abundance of good food, or a happy conversation or even receiving some credible appreciation. Smiling becomes an instinctive reaction in each of these scenarios. 

Think of optimistic situations that you are normally comfortable in or that you associate yourself with to automatically create this smiling environment. You can also try spending more time in nature, or try watching or reading something funny to invoke a smile. Practising gratitude daily and indulging in some self-care would also work if you are wondering how to smile more often. 

While it is certainly effortless to smile during favourable events, you might wonder how to smile when you are not in a great mood. Well, the answer is simple. You have to fake it until you make it. So a fake smile would work in your favour until the turbulent tides pass over. 

Smiling through adversities could trick your brain into thinking about happiness. While it might not be the easiest task to do while being emotionally rundown, science explains why this forced smile can improve your overall mood. The brain believes you are actually content even when you force yourself to smile, ultimately helping you ooze out a more genuine smile. 

The key to a happy smile is to smile with your whole face, eyes and cheeks included, and not just the lips. Keeping your facial muscles relaxed, thinking happy thoughts, and emoting with your eyes will add more persona to your character.  

What are the various types of smiles? 

Studies have identified numerous types of smiles and there are a million ways to measure and distinguish them. From fake smiles to flirtatious smiles, and Duchenne smile to affiliative smile, there is a meaning behind each of the smile types and they can portray various feelings from wistfulness to politeness and even embarrassment to sarcasm. 

However, biologically, there are only three true types of smiling based on how a person smiles. 

  • The “Mona Lisa” is the most common, with 66% of the world’s population expressing a smile where the corners of the mouth turn upwards and outwards and the upper teeth are exposed. 
  • The “Canine” smile, where all the canine teeth are exposed. 31 per cent of people smiled in this manner. 
  • The “Full Dentured”, is where the lips move back all the way showing both upper and lower rows of teeth. This is not very common and is only found in 2% of the people. 

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What are the benefits of smiling? 

The power of a smile is hard to undermine. It boosts your lifestyle and lifts your spirits in numerous ways. The psychological impression that a smile leaves on you and your companions will always remain positive. 

Here are some of the benefits of smiling

  • A happier and longer life: The smile almost instantaneously impacts your mental health. This in turn influences your life span. Science has proven that smiling can reduce your stress levels, keep your blood pressure at bay, relieve anxiety, and decrease any risks of heart ailments. As a result, you can focus on the positives in life and grow in a nourishing and enriching atmosphere. 
  • Smiling is an anti-depressant: Biologically, a big smile can trigger the release of neuropeptides that enhance neural communication. Further, smiles are known to reduce pain as the endorphins it release are similar to painkillers. This further releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which ultimately boost your mood. These neurotransmitters also work to improve your immune system. 
  • Smiling indicates a successful demeanour: Smiling while interacting with others will help you exude confidence and project a successful aura. It will show you in a better light and others will respect you further for the personality you bring. It will help reinforce your presence in the society. 
  • Smiling makes you approachable: Most importantly, smiling ensures that you carry an aura of friendliness and trustworthiness. Smiling adds a sense of delight to your facial expressions and it garners you more attraction! This helps you expand your network and add more quality to your life. You can also smile your way up the professional ladder. At the end of the day, it’s all a vicious cycle.

The benefits of smiling far outweigh the scorns or disdain that come with constant frowning. Always remember the lines from the famous Broadway musical, “You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile”, while you navigate the rollercoasters that life throws you.

The Bottom Line

By now, we know that smiling is a natural drug and its benefits are innumerable. From an improved immune system to making you look confident and attractive, the list is long. But do we remember to smile as often as possible?

In this aspect, we can all learn a lesson or two from children. Yes, children smile an average of 400 times per day, while an average adult smiles only about 30 times a day. This stark difference takes into account the responsibilities and worries that creep into our lives as the years go by. 

Take the time off to re-assess your priorities and focus on a healthy lifestyle. Cultivate the habit of smiling on the Happily App. The mindful reminders and thoughtful notifications will surely bring a smile to your face. And remember, smiling is more contagious than a viral flu. So, be the carrier of this infectious syndrome, and pass it on to everyone, making the world a happier place to live in. 

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