To make eye contact and smile is a kind of prayer, and it changes you. – Anne Lamott
Lamott’s quote about the power of smiling has been on my mind most mornings when I walk my dogs past others in our neighborhood: the gaggle of women, the power pairs, the man who limps alongside his mini-Aussie and the woman with her age-graying beagle, and the too-thin retired gentleman who shuffles his feet. While I don’t know their names, I always smile and offer a greeting. Over time, the smiles seem to be weaving us together. I imagine that we each walk trailing colored ribbons and our daily smile-filled greetings are wrapping cozy-colorful scarves of kindness around us, our neighborhood, and potentially, the world.
The first Friday of October is World Smile Day, a fun remembrance of the significance of smiling as a way to spread kindness and affection. So why smile?
You’ll feel better.
Smiling increases mood-enhancing hormones and decreases stress-enhancing hormones. Some of those hormones act like natural painkillers. Smiling also makes you look more attractive and appear successful, which might result in actual success. And, in this case, you can fake it till you make it: put a smile on your face even when you’re unhappy and it can change your mood – and your life – for the better.
You’ll make someone else feel better.
Like yawns, smiles can be contagious. The brain is wired to notice, interpret, and mimic others’ facial expressions. Haven’t you noticed that you smile when someone genuinely smiles at you? You have that same superpower. Smile, and the world smiles with you.
You might live longer.
Smiling reduces overall blood pressure and boosts your immune system. And optimism, linked with smiling, is associated with both a longer life span and lower risks of death from cancer and infection.
You were born smiling.
3D ultrasound technology has revealed that babies develop the ability to smile in utero. In fact, babies across all cultures and environments are born smiling.
What will make you smile today? And how will you spread smiles?
Image from Pixabay