Smile and the whole world smiles with you!

It’s true, try it. Just walk along a street, make eye contact with someone and give them one of your best smiles. Yes, they might wonder what you have been up to, but chances are they will smile back at you.

It is a natural reaction, we have connections in our brain that trigger when we both observe and take part in an action, called ‘mirror neurons’. When we see someone smile, our mirror neurons simulate our own smiling.

Smiling is probably one of the most important non-verbal communication skills we possess. It’s a bit like a social contract we enter into – we are communicating with others that everything is good and there is nothing to worry about. Studies have also shown that when people smile it makes them appear, not only friendly and courteous, but also more competent.

If you want to improve your confidence, one immediate thing you can do to change your state, is to stand tall and smile. You look confident and you feel it.

Studies have also shown that smiling reduces the stress enhancing hormones such as cortisol, adrenalin and dopamine, while increasing your mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins, as well as helping lower your blood pressure. So smiling actually helps to make you healthier.

Interestingly the average child will smile up to 400 times a day, a happy adult will smile between 40-50 times a day, and the average adult just 20! As the responsibilities of adulthood filter into our lives, it appears that we forget to smile.

Ron Gutman has been studying the power of the smile for years and has recognised the correlation between the quality of someone’s smile to the success of their marriage and how long they live. It is worth a consideration, I would suggest!

When we smile, the cranial muscles we use start a positive feedback loop that goes back to the brain and reinforces our feeling of joy. So basically, smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in the same way as chocolate. Researchers have found that a good smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as 2000 bars of chocolate. The same study also found that one smile is as stimulating as receiving up to £16,000 in cash. I’m not 100% sure of that, but seeing as it is free, there is no trade-off in the way of calories and anyone and everyone can do it, is it not worth putting more smiles in your day?

If you are in a place where smiling just feels too hard, try this exercise – put a pencil in your mouth between your teeth, hold it there for a minute. You will feel silly and the exercise will use some of the same muscles as a smile and really starts making you feel better – try it!

A smile means the same thing, no matter what language you speak, what religion you follow or what culture you have been brought up in. It breaks down boundaries and makes you feel better.

It’s free, it’s contagious, and it gives you a natural hit of pleasure. It keeps you healthier, helps you to live longer and improves your marriage! And anyone and everyone can do it!

So my challenge for you today is smile, smile, smile!