Why You Should Be Smiling

Say ‘CHEESE!’:

You know the drill. Unless you’re a professional kids’ photographer who knows more smile-look-alike words, you want your kid to crack a smile and you’re telling him to say CHEEEEEESE.

I love smiling. I stood at a door the other day for 2.5 hours smiling at the passersby as part of a volunteer event, and I had a blast. I once worked at my HS/college retail job the Sunday before Christmas and I made it my goal to make every single person who went through my line smile. I reached every face but one (ornery) man.

I’ve also been told to get rid of my joy because it wasn’t needed where I was going. Well… disagree. Joy is one of those ultimate emotions in life. We seek it, we chase it, it eludes us, it encapsulates us. Just depends on your outlook or your day or the conversation you just had.

Smile 2Joy is tied to this act of smiling. Even if it’s unintentional, when you feel joyful I believe you mouth naturally curves upwards. But why should we smile? It might be natural, but why should we make intentional effort to do it more often? Why did God grant us these faces that run the gamut of expression, including one single act that could mean so many things? I think He did it to make our lives better. Case in point:

1. Research shows people who smile, live longer.

2. You are more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt.  (Same research as above)

3. Smiling can be a de-stressor and is a heart-healthy action.

4. Smiling is contagious. We have mirror synapses in our brain that make us smile when we see others smile, and yawn when others yawn.

5. Smiling is universal. Fight with your kid? Fight with your spouse? Tension at work? When the sucky part is over and you just want to move on, offer a smile. Not only does it take less physical effort than a frown, but it’s prettier and more likely to bridge that gap.

6. It makes our day better. Shopping won’t help you, but smiling will. Intelligent Life magazine says here that most of our smiling comes from spontaneous social interaction. So get your face out of your phone (I’m talking to myself, too, don’t worry) and your wallet if you really want to boost your mood.

As with many areas of research, it’s not the thing that makes the positive results, it’s the reasons behind the thing. The relationships that weave a strong web in your life to make you feel supported, causing the corners of your mouth to go up even on the days when you want to crawl in a hole and die. The pets that love us so unconditionally, so perfectly, we can’t help but feel like the Most Special Person every time we come into their presence. The resilience we’ve exhibited as we chase our dreams, the exhilaration we feel when that dream is reached. The children we raise, the trips we take, the people we meet, the God we love. It’s what’s behind the smile that counts the most, but what better way to show it than to be a big cheeseball:

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