BIG, HAPPY SMILES ARE FREE, and they are instantly understood regardless of language or culture. Receiving a big genuine smile, complete with twinkling eyes, is a special giftthat establishes an instant rapport.Our heart opens to the possibility of friendship, relationship, fun and laughter.
The following quote from the philosopher Emil inspired me to explore smiling as an act of mindfulness based relaxation activity. “Learn to smile in the sweet way of a child. A smile from the soul is spiritual relaxation.”
I first tried the smile theory on myself. I noticed that a gentle smile during meditation caused the muscles in my neck and face to relax, and I could repeat the result each time I experimented with my smile. At times I also noticed that my whole spine would relax, and I felt more grounded and settled – more connected to my own inner being and wisdom.
A little informal office research seemed to be the next step, so I enlisted clients who were already involved in stress reduction therapy. I quickly found the act of smiling initiated relaxation for most of them. Each experience brought a greater calm, and they were surprised at the positive shift that occurred within them. I’d become convinced the smile was a powerful relaxation and healing tool, and they learned that the more they practiced recognizing the impact of smiling, the more positive they became.
Curiosity overcame me, and I began to scan the internet and other sources for formal research on relaxation, health, and the smile. To my surprise, I found there was a huge body of formal scientific investigation on the smile, and some universities maintained a Smile Laboratory. Their findings are fascinating and invaluable. You absolutely want to know these facts about the magic in your “power-packed smile”.
- Researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland confirmed something that you may already know. Men and women are more drawn to images of people who make eye contact and smile than they are to individuals who do not. Smiles make you more attractive to those you meet.
- The size and quality of your smile is meaningful. Research shows that those with a wide happy smile are likely to have a happy marriage, and those who smile less are more likely to have their marriage end in divorce. (DuPauw University: Matthew J. Hertenstein)
- There is something known as emotional contagion: Our emotions and our moods are contagious. We impact the world with our smile by increasing the likelihood that those around us will also smile. (Hatfield, Capioppo & Rapson)
- Mimicking occurs when a person activates muscle groups that are linked to specific emotions. If you frown and look mean, your body releases adrenaline and your heart rate speeds up as though you really are feeling mean and angry. If you mimic a smile, your body releases serotonin, dopamine and other “feel good” neurotransmitters and you become more relaxed and at peace. (Ulf Dimberg, Monika Thunberg, and Kurt Elmehed Uppsala University, Sweden)
- Smile intensity is related to length of life and those with a broad, beaming smile may live a significantly longer life. (Ernest L. Abel and Michael L. Kruger, Wayne State University)
- This may be the most interesting research findings of all. Research at the University of Missouri, Kansas City found that smiling causes others to perceive you as younger and thinner than you are!
I encourage you to do your own informal research with your smile. You will notice the positive impact to your mood and body. I have some suggestions based on my personal experiences with the smile and lab-based research findings.
Create an intention to make your smile a priority. Let your smile generate greater happiness for yourself and others. Your smile will help you create positive changes in your daily life. You can create a happier family, a more enjoyable community, heal the emotional wounds that you make for yourself and others – and most importantly you have the power to change the world – one smile at a time.
THIS IS VERY PROFESSIONAL!
More tidbits coming in future articles, meant to spur you on to create momentous moments!
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