Light Up Someone’s World

Here’s a way to add some joy to your day and perhaps help to get you on an even keel when you’re facing a day of bustle, hustle or rushing around.  Even if you’re having a great day, this will help to make it better.

It’s free, it takes the barest amount of effort, no time and you can reap rewards many times over from it as well.

It’s also great as a means to achieve happiness.  It may only require that you be in the present moment.

So what is it that can make you feel great and is simple to do?

You’ve probably guessed from the blog picture above.  The answer is: to smile.

Can you spare one?

Most of us can find something to smile about.

But even if you can’t — yes, a fake smile will do.

Because when you smile, you rev up plenty of emotions – the good, positive kind.  Some researchers say your brain can’t tell the difference between a true smile and a “fake, social smile.”

A “first thing in the morning smile” can really help to get your day in motion in a positive way.  When you get out of bed and you’re feeling out of sorts, blue, depressed, distracted or sad, try smiling.  It takes only a moment.

And if you’re headed to the bathroom to brush your teeth, why not smile at yourself in the mirror?  This may seem silly, but when you smile, your brain remembers your smile.  And all those remembered smiles help to create more positive thinking habits than negative ones.

An important effect of smiling is that it leads to a reduction of stress-induced hormones that impact your mental and physical health in a negative way.   Because when you smile, your brain feels happy and releases into your bloodstream dopamine, serotonin and endorphins that help you to relax and also help to lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

Now here’s something to think about:  shouldn’t we be spreading all this goodness around to others?

When you smile at someone, haven’t you noticed how they almost always automatically smile back?  This response also causes the person you’re smiling at to reap the same good results that you do from smiling.  It’s contagious.

You may already have a go-to fix for feeling better when you’re down such as working out, walking or maybe finding some relief from consuming a chocolate bar or scrolling through travel websites imagining your next vacation.  But smiling is unique in that it can make others feel good, too.

Now onto my experiment.

Lately, I’ve decided to smile at and say hello to random people I pass along the seaside boardwalk where I take my morning walks.  Here are my findings thus far:  almost everyone smiles back.  Some are surprised, and most are pleased.

With couples, usually only one will smile and say hello back.  The other partner will look down, turn away or act as if they don’t see me.  I find this to be quite interesting.

Most people wearing earbuds or chatting on a cell phone don’t notice me or respond to me in any fashion whatsoever.  They usually wear blank stares and definitely don’t appear to be happy (though they very well may be).

I‘ve drawn some conclusions.  But chief among them is the fact that my own happiness (and I’m a very optimistic, happy person, in general) soars.  It’s amazing how great you can feel when you reach out and with a simple act (similar to sharing a touch), you can light up someone’s world.  Not everyone’s, perhaps, but most.

Have you noticed how many news broadcasters are smiling all the time?  They’ve practiced the art of smiling and talking at the same time.  And let’s face it, newscasters report a lot of bleak, sad, horrific stories.  They show compassion; it’s true, but on cue, for example, when cutting to a commercial or changing subjects, they’re all smiles.  Despite all the bad news, they’re still smiling at something.

Here’s one reason they’re smiling:  people who smile are perceived as being attractive, sincere, reliable and relaxed.  And they may be viewed as more intelligent.

Also interesting is scientists claim that when you see someone smiling, your orbitofrontal cortex is activated, and this is the area of your brain that processes sensory rewards.  So basically you feel rewarded.

But most astonishing to me is that smiling can also help to extend your life.  Smiling can stimulate molecules in your brain that help to fight illness and stress.  In fact, there are cancer cases, where patients have gone into remission after releasing a major stress factor.  And as mentioned, smiling helps to reduce stress.

The best part about smiling for me is that in addition to feeling better myself, I can do something to improve another person’s life.

Imagine for a moment a world where we all made small, conscious efforts throughout the day to make it a habit to smile more.  With this one, tiny tweak, we might make the world an even more beautiful place in which to live.

My questions for you this week are:  do you have a smile to spare?  Do you smile often?  Can you imagine smiling more?  Do you think about the effect your smile has on others?  Does smiling make you feel more relaxed, less overwhelmed and less stressed?  Please take a moment to share your thoughts with our community.  We’d love to hear from you.

Categories: Blog, Habits, Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Self-care, and Stress.

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