College Life Growth

The Truth About Your Smile

“When you smile, the world smiles back.”—Anonymous

I have a challenge for you.

Go to the Commons after church one evening, sit down, and watch the people (not creepily, please. I take no responsibility for creepiness!). Take a writing pad with you and do your best to tally every smile you see each minute.

My guess is that you won’t be able to keep up!

Smiling is one of the most common human expressions. It’s often involuntary, sometimes pre-meditated, and at times, is simply because we are feeling great! But why do we smile?

Most of us smile because we are happy!

Some smile because they're nervous. 

Others use it to mask their pain.

Many don't smile at all. 

Recently, I overheard a person ask his friend why she didn’t have a smile on her face. His friend replied, “I’ll smile when I’m happy.” When I heard this, the thought ran through my brain, “Why wait until you’re happy to smile? Doesn’t smiling make you feel better? 

Smiling Fixes Stress! 

For instance, did you know that when you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides, which help to fight off stress, making you feel calmer almost immediately?[1]

Along with neuropeptides, your brain gets a healthy dosage of feel-good hormones called endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins not only relax you, but they are also a pain reliever. 

Serotonin is a natural anti-depressant, and is often the hormone that antidepressant drugs are attempting to release! This basically means that by simply smiling, you are taking an antidepressant drug (without all of those nasty side effects).

So if you’re waiting to be happy to smile, don’t wait. Smiling will help you be happier!

Smiling Helps Others.

You are much more attractive when you smile.  

Neuropsychologia, a science journal, published a study that revealed that you are actually viewed as more beautiful and attractive with a smile on your face. Your entire perspective of the world changes, and you are perceived to be more reliable and sincere.[2]

The study also found that when you view a person who is smiling, the orbitofrontal cortex of your brain (which processes the feeling of being rewarded) is triggered, making you feel as if you have been rewarded. This means that smiling is contagious! When you are rewarded, a smile almost automatically breaks across your face.[3]

This goes for those who see you smile as well.

By the way, your brain does not know the difference between a real and “fake” smile.[4]

You don’t have to feel like smiling to smile!

Sometimes you need to smile in order to feel like smiling. 

World-renowned author and speaker Zig Ziglar said, “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.”

All around us are people who aren’t smiling. They feel defeated and down, struggling under the weight of everyday life. 

Why don’t we band together to make the sun shine for those who only see clouds? So go out and smile! Give your world some light today.

Stay classy, guys. Keep smiling!

[1]Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett; 2009:258

[2] O’Doherty, J., Winston, J., Critchley, H. Perrett, D., Burt, D.M., and Dolan R.J., (2003) “Beauty in a smile: the role of medial orbitofrontal cortex in facial attractiveness.” Neuropsychologia, 41, 147–155.

[3]“Beauty in a Smile.”

[4]NeuroNation, “Benefits of Smiling,”

The thoughts and opinions expressed in Life in the Nest are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pensacola Christian College.
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