At the end of the previous blog, reference was made to Mother Teresa, who reminded people that peace begins with a smile. This prompted me to research information regarding the effects of smiling. Much to my delight, I learned how smiling affects the brain and the body:
Improves mood—2010 research showed making yourself smile when you are feeling down improves mood and increases positive thoughts.
Lowers blood pressure—a 2009 review showed that laughter initially increases heart rate, followed by a period of muscle relaxation and a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease.
Relieves stress—a 2015 study published in Psychological Science shows that smiling results in a lower heart rate during stressful tasks. Stress usually increases heart rate and blood pressure, so smiling when stressed provides lowering of both heart rate and blood pressure.
Improves relationships—People who smile are perceived as being more likable according to a 2014 study. Being likable makes it easier to build and maintain better relationships with others, which is important for overall health and well-being. Also a 2010 study found that people with positive emotions have more stable marriages and better interpersonal skills.
Strengthens immune function—Mayo Clinic reports that positive thoughts release molecules in the brain that fight stress and illnesses, while negative thoughts decrease the body’s immunity.
Relieves pain—laughter causes the body to release its own natural painkillers. A 2012 study found that laughter increases the pain threshold and thus creates a higher pain tolerance.
Prolongs life—a 2010 study found that smiling and positive emotions are associated with increased life spans!
Even though this research was not done while Mother Teresa was alive, intuitively she knew peace begins with a smile—for we all know that when we smile and are happy we are at PEACE with ourselves and others. Of late, I have been experimenting with this by not only smiling more, but also saying to others, “Have a smiley day!” I have yet to experience a person not responding with a smile—in fact, on a number of occasions, remarks have been made about how good it feels to think of a “smiley day.”
How aware are you of smiling throughout the day? Are you willing to try smiling more in your own way as you encounter others and notice the effects? As more and more people smile, we will move closer to PEACE as a reality and not just an aspiration. As always, sharing your thoughts and comments are most welcome!