The power of a smile

At livingbeyond40, we strive to “become the person you want to be” in order to achieve long term growth and development.

While we are seeking long term results, there are many short term solutions that we can employ in this journey which can enhance the quality of our lives.  For example, in a previous post we discussed the benefits of box breathing.

This video by Ron Gutman is another example of a short term solution, and speaks about the hidden power of smiling.

Mr. Gutman opens the video by speaking about two studies.  In the first, he described a 30 year longitudinal study at UC Berkeley where they examined photos of women from old yearbooks.  The study found that the women who showed the most genuine smiles were most likely to have had a happy life – a long-term marriage and a better sense of well being.

In the second study by Wayne State University, researchers examined the smiles on player’s faces from 1950’s baseball cards.  They found that players that had no smile lived an average of 72.9 years, players with a slight smile lived 75 years, and players that had a beaming smile lived 79.9 years!

Mr. Gutman stated that 3D images show babies smiling in their mother’s womb, and that a smile is a basic biological expression of all humans across the world.

He also said that 1/3 of people smile more than 20 times a day, less than 14% smile less than 5 times a day, and children can smile as many as 400 times a day.

Also, in a study by Uppsala University in Sweden, Mr. Gutman said the researchers found that it was difficult to frown at someone who smiled.

Mr. Gutman stated that Charles Darwin said that the act of smiling actually makes us feel better and stimulates our brain reward system. It can also make us healthier by reducing the level of stress enhancing hormones, increase mood enhancing hormones, and can also help to reduce blood pressure.

Finally, Mr. Gutman cited a Penn State study which showed that people who smiled appeared to be more likeable, courteous, and competent.

The takeaway for this short yet powerful video is that even when we are feeling down, and may not see anything to smile about, this simple act of smiling may help to get us out of a funk, change our mood, and make us healthier.

While this quick fix may not be long term solution, the old adeage of “fake it til you make it” may be just what we need to get us back on track.

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