Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh said:- "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."
A smile, an expression of joy, happiness, pleasure, tenderness, amusement, delight, friendliness. So much power in one facial expression. And, it's contagious. It's really hard to look at someone smiling and not smile back. Someone who is smiling seems more attractive, approachable, pleasant and relaxed.
On the inside, smiling actually makes us feel good. Lifts our mood. According to research, smiling releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, all feel good neurotransmitters, or chemicals that send signals to our brain. Dopamine is known to increase a feel good response. Endorphins act as natural pain relievers, while serotonin may serve as a mood lifter or natural antidepressant.
If the emotional shot in the arm of a smile is not enough, studies suggest that smiling may reduce blood pressure and lengthen your life span. Smiling not only makes you look and feel good, it boosts your overall well being.
What I find most exciting about all the studies I read is that we don't need a reason to smile in order to reap the physiological and emotional benefits. I tried an experiment. I challenged myself to smile more often. I replaced a neutral look with that of a smile, allowed myself to smile at things around me that might be considered mundane yet I enjoy. If a pleasant memory surfaced, I'd stop and smile and relish in the moment.
I discovered that yes, I do indeed feel better when I have a smile on my face. It's as if my facial muscles soften and my eyes see more beauty around me. My shoulders relax and my breathing seems to slow down. I don't have the scientific tools to prove that my neurotransmitters are working to shift my mood, however the result of my smile is a feeling of contentment. And when I am content, it's difficult to feel anxiety and stress.
Healthy, happy and pleasing to the eye. Reason enough to smile if you ask me.
Be well and take care of yourself.