The Power of a Smile
Author: Susannah Schaefer, Smile Train
Date: SEP 2017
Scientific research has shown that smiling, or seeing a smile, is contagious and can stimulate happy thoughts – even if you don’t feel happy at the time. Thus, our facial expressions may have a greater impact on our lives than one might have previously imagined.
The physical benefits associated with smiling do not stop here - there are several other benefits which people may not even be aware of:
- Smiling is a universal sign of happiness and one of the few gestures which means the same thing all around the globe. This means that you can travel anywhere in the world and communicate happiness.
- Smiling lowers stress as it impacts certain muscles within the body which make you feel happy. The movement of muscles in your face releases chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive feeling. These endorphins lower stress levels, which improves your mood.
- The release of endorphins through smiling also increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure. This means that you can lower your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
- Smiling boosts your immune system as it encourages the release of serotonin. Like endorphins, serotonin is a neurotransmitter which contributes to a person’s happiness and wellbeing.
- Seeing a smiling face can help to ease mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
In my capacity as CEO of Smile Train, I am fortunate enough to see the life changing impact that bringing a smile to a child’s face through cleft repair surgery has every day.
Across much of the developing world, children with untreated clefts face many challenges including difficulties eating and breathing, being denied access to education, and being shunned by their communities. Therefore, when a child in the developing world receives free cleft repair surgery it is a life-saving experience, as it opens the door to a whole new world of possibilities - simply by giving them the power of a smile.
So, next time a friend passes on some good news and brings a smile to your face, or you share a joke with a colleague – don’t take that smile for granted, and keep in mind that across the globe a smile can mean so much more than a simple facial movement.
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