Smile For Your Health
A smile “generates the physiology of positive emotion and the changes in the brain” associated with spontaneous enjoyment, says Paul Ekman, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, recently said in a Wall Street Journal article.
Research is showing that smiling may be good for your health – and that wearing a smile brings certain cognitive and physical benefits, like slowing down the heart and reducing stress.
Forbes reports even faking a smile could be a good thing. Of course, the real thing is best, that is, a smile induced by real emotions, using your mouth and eyes. Even alone, when you feel there’s nothing to smile about, forcing a smile can actually have a positive effect by helping reduce anxiety associated with stress and depression. So when we feel there isn’t much to smile about, smile anyway. Smile for yourself, for your health, and when you’re ready, take that smile public and share it with the world. Humans are hardwired for sociability so when you smile, even if others aren’t, they’ll also experience a benefit from your smile.
I talk to people everyday who say they smile a certain way to hide teeth imperfections. Or maybe they don’t smile at all. Often, others tell them no one would ever notice, don’t be so self-conscious. I know, I was once that person, the one who didn’t smile for pictures.
When I was a teenager, my mouth became jumbled with permanent teeth and I was quite self-conscious. The front two overlapped slightly and the bottom were a crooked mess. Pictures of me from elementary on told the story with half smiles in every yearbook. I was careful to smile in such a way that would hide my teeth, relying on the corners of my mouth to turn upwards and a twinkle in my eye.
Braces permanently changed that for me. And by permanent I mean to this day, many years later, I look in the mirror and am pleased with my teeth and my smile. Sure, we had the typical adventures in braces – extra precaution when playing sports, sore gums, my cousins and I combing through fast food trash bins in search of my absentmindedly discarded retainer. Years later, I am still grateful my parents invested in an orthodontic treatment plan to correct my teeth from a dental and cosmetic perspective. I’m proud of my teeth and I smile without reserve.
We’ve always known there’s something special about a smile. Even before research confirmed the science behind it, Louis Armstrong sang:
Yes keep on smiling
Keep on smiling
And the whole world smiles with you