It’s National Smile Week!

Smiling is a natural response to everything we do. And isn’t it interesting that, not only do we smile when we’re happy, we also smile when we are shy,  embarrassed, and sometimes, we even smile through tears! Smiling is a socially accepted sign universally recognized. It is a way of communicating happiness in every culture across the globe. We are people! We are happy people! Shouldn’t we smile more?

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Life is sometimes difficult. Unpleasant. Exhausting. We might feel that we have nothing to smile about, but there is always a loophole. There is always something. Seemingly miniscule and meaningless accomplishments are often the triumphs we need to get us through the daily grind. Maybe your dog is finally potty trained! Maybe you bought a new dress! Or, maybe you just found out that you were heir to a multi-million dollar company! (Hardly miniscule, but…) Whatever it is, smile about it! Because it makes you happy!

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And if you can’t smile about any of that, make someone else smile. Surprise your mom with flowers! Show up unexpectedly to your brother’s office and bring him lunch! Take your niece out for ice cream! Be your overly-chatty next door neighbor’s listening ear tomorrow morning–even if you’d rather not.

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The benefits of smiling are innumerable, but the most obvious is that you will be a happier person. Happy people don’t only live longer, but they live more fulfilled lives. Not just for themselves, but they encourage others to do the same. When Jane smiles at John, something triggers in John’s brain, pulls at his zygomaticus major muscle (the one that makes you smile), and voila! Jane and John are both smiling and on their way to living more fulfilled lives!

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If you’re still not convinced that smiling is essential to healthy living, here is a list of proven personal benefits:
-It lowers heart rate, reducing stress. Enough said.
-It puts you in a better mood! Remember when you were a toddler and you were told to “turn that frown upside down and smile that frown away”? Well, you’re an adult now, and that trick still works.
-It produces empathy. When we know we’ve made a mistake and someone calls us out on it, we often smile. Our brain recognizes this, stores the information, and the next time someone wrongs us, we’re more likely to recognize that we’ve been there, too. See? Smiling produces empathy.
-It increases attention and builds attraction. As human beings, we’re inherently attracted to happy people. When we smile, other people notice and are attracted to us.
-It releases endorphins! Smiling is the most natural pain killer. It boosts your serotonin levels and regulates your mood. Low serotonin levels are unhealthy and that’s why you should smile!

So, now that you’ve read this, you’ll smile more often, right?

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