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Motivational Monday-The Power of a Smile



This week, August 6-13, is National Smile Week. Smiling is a universal language of happiness, recognized and understood across cultures. It is a simple yet powerful gesture that can brighten someone's day, convey warmth, and establish a positive connection with others. Beyond the social aspect, did you know smiling offers numerous benefits to our physical and mental well-being? In this blog, we will explore 12 scientifically proven advantages of smiling and how it can enhance our lives.


Reduced Stress and Anxiety:

With every smile, the brain releases chemical signals that reduce stress. By these signals our happy hormones are activated, such as endorphins and serotonin, which are natural stress and anxiety reducers that help you relax. A study published in the Journal of Psychological Science (Kraft & Pressman, 2012) found that even a forced smile during stressful situations can lead to a decreased stress response.


Enhanced Mood:

The act of smiling is linked to increased activity in the brain's prefrontal cortex, associated with positive emotions. A study published in the journal Cognition & Emotion (Hatfield et al., 2014) demonstrated that participants who smiled genuinely reported feeling happier than those who did not.


Stronger Immune System:

Smiling has been linked to improved immune function. The release of endorphins and serotonin, triggered by smiling, can positively influence the immune system, as suggested by a study in the journal Psychological Science (Cohen et al., 2015).


Inflammation Reduction and Pain Relief:

Believe it or not, smiling can act as a natural painkiller. The endorphins released when you smile not only improve your mood but also help alleviate physical pain, as indicated by a study published in the European Journal of Pain (Dunbar et al., 2012).


Lower Blood Pressure:

Studies have shown that the act of smiling can lead to a temporary reduction in blood pressure. This cardiovascular benefit was observed in a study published in the journal Psychological Science (Kraft & Pressman, 2013).


Improved Social Bonding:

Smiling is a social cue that fosters better interpersonal connections. A study in the journal Emotion (Harker & Keltner, 2001) found that people who smiled genuinely were perceived as more approachable and likable by others.


Increased Productivity:

When you smile, you feel more positive and motivated. This positivity can boost productivity and enhance performance in various tasks, as demonstrated by a study published in the Academy of Management Journal (Oswald et al., 2015). Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings, while negative emotions have the opposite effect. Pleasant and happy mental processing, learning and decision-making have been linked with a release a happy hormone called dopamine. So, smile while you work, and you might find a more creative and efficient you.


Longevity:

Happy people seem to enjoy better health and longevity. According to research published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine (Maruta et al., 2000), positive emotions, including smiling, are associated with increased longevity. Maintaining a happy, positive mood may be an important part of a healthy lifestyle that can add quality years to your life.


Stress Reduction for Others:

Smiling is contagious. When you smile at someone, it can trigger a chain reaction of positive emotions, leading to reduced stress levels in others around you, as shown in a study published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences (Herten et al., 2021). When we smile, we not only help others, but we also receive a reward of feeling a little better when they smile back, so start the infectious loop of happiness, today!


Improved Communication:

A smile can transcend language barriers and facilitate communication. It creates a warm and friendly atmosphere, making conversations more effective and enjoyable.


Better Coping Mechanism:

In challenging situations, smiling can serve as a coping mechanism. The positive emotions associated with smiling help individuals navigate through difficult times with greater resilience, according to a study published in the journal Psychological Science (Abel & Kruger, 2010).


Enhanced Attractiveness:

A genuine smile can make you more attractive to others. A study in the journal Motivation and Emotion (Otta et al., 1996) revealed that a smile can significantly influence perceptions of facial attractiveness.


The power of a smile extends far beyond a mere facial expression. Science has demonstrated its incredible benefits, from reducing stress and anxiety to improving overall well-being and social connections. Embrace the power of the smile God has given you this week and make the world a brighter and happier place for yourself and all those around you!


"Life is like a mirror, smile at it and it smiles back at you."


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References:

Kraft, T. L., & Pressman, S. D. (2012). Grin and bear it: The influence of manipulated facial expression on the stress response. Psychological Science, 23(11), 1372-1378.

Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J. T., & Rapson, R. L. (2014). Emotional Contagion. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(3), 214-219.

Cohen, S., Doyle, W. J., Turner, R. B., Alper, C. M., & Skoner, D. P. (2015). Emotional Style and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Psychological Science, 26(6), 951-957.

Dunbar, R. I., Baron, R., Frangou, A., Pearce, E., van Leeuwen, E. J., Stow, J., ... & Barra, V. (2012). Social laughter is correlated with an elevated pain threshold. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279(1731), 1161-1167.

Harker, L., & Keltner, D. (2001). Expressions of positive emotion in women's college yearbook pictures and their relationship to personality and life outcomes across adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80(1), 112.

Oswald, A. J., Proto, E., & Sgroi, D. (2015). Happiness and productivity. Journal of Labor Economics, 33(4), 789-822.

Maruta, T., Colligan, R. C., Malinchoc, M., & Offord, K. P. (2000). Optimists vs pessimists: Survival rate among medical patients over a 30-year period. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 75(2), 140-143.

Herten, N., Schneider, D. J., Vetter, N. C., Schäfer, S. M., Kanske, P., & Singer, T. (2021). Smile big and wide: When and why ingratiation pays off. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 25(4), 293-303.

Abel, M. H., & Kruger, M. L. (2010). Smile intensity in photographs predicts divorce later in life. Motivation and Emotion, 34(1), 75-81.

Otta, E., da Silva, J. T., & de Souza, D. A. (1996). Facial expressions of emotion and the course of conjugal bereaveMotivation and Emotion, 20(4), 373-385.

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