Are you aware of the therapeutic effect of laughter? It isn’t “new news” and we have things like laughter yoga springing up just to help people have a place and incentive to laugh out loud. There’s even a Laughter Yoga University. There are quite a number of studies about the effect of laughter. But are you aware of the healing strength of a smile? It has been demonstrated in a number of studies that smiling has an overall positive effect on the “smiler” and the “smilee.” (Yes, I know I just made those words up, but how else do you say it?) The message here is that smiling is a self improvement tool and I want you to know just how powerful it is.
Smiling is a self improvement tool
According to Mark Stibich, Smiling:
- Makes us more attractive
- Relieves stress
- Elevates our mood
- Is contagious
- Boosts your immune system
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Makes you feel good
- Helps you look younger
- Makes you look successful
- Helps You stay positive
Test the power of a smile
There are a couple of “tests” cited in literature that you can try to prove to yourself that a smile, even when you don’t feel like smiling, has an effect on you.
Try this one. Put a pencil, pen or object between your lips. It creates a frown. Notice how that makes you feel. Then put it between your teeth, creating a smile. Notice how that makes you feel. Just the act of curving the muscles of the mouth up makes you feel better. (Of course you can fight it if you want to, but why wouldn’t you want to feel better?)
And try this when you are “out and about.” When you meet someone and make eye contact, give them a big smile, even if you have to fake it. Notice what happens. The person will almost always smile back, sometimes a bit forced but a smile nevertheless. When you get that response you get what I call a little “jolt of joy.” It instantly makes you feel better. If you could ask the other person what they felt, they would most likely tell you in their own words that they experienced the same “jolt.” For some, that’s all they needed to uplift their mood for the rest of the day. You might find that when you do this, you have an unusually happy day. Would you agree, yet, that smiling is a self improvement tool?
Try a harder smile test
Try it in a place where almost no one is smiling. Make it a point to talk with each one there and give each one the biggest smile you can. Watch what happens. If you have a time app on your phone, time how long it takes for everyone in the group to be smiling. Pay attention to how it makes you feel, because you will be the biggest benefactor from the experiment. Yes, smiling is contagious.
If you really want to learn the effect of a smile, go to a place where a smile is badly needed. For instance, go to a nursing home and visit an elderly person who rarely has a visitor. Notice what happens when you introduce yourself and give a big smile. You will receive a smile back from a face that needs something to smile about. Your heart will sing.
Read the list of benefits again. Who wouldn’t want those things.
A smile is so easy and it is free to give and receive. It certainly beats taking a pill. So why don’t you make it your self improvement tool of choice?
After all, the one who really benefits the most in this test is you. Start now to use smiling as a self improvement tool.