There is a Chinese saying that goes something like, do not open the door to your shop unless you are prepared to smile. In a recent Psychology Today blog, Sarah Stevenson summarizes scientific research which reports that smiling makes you and your body feel better by releasing dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, sometimes called “the pleasure neurotransmitters.”
Could a smile make you look better? Possibly. There is research that suggests that smiling faces are judged as more attractive than those that aren’t smiling.
Could your smile make other people feel better? Again, it appears possible. Stevenson quotes research showing that “the part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression of smiling when happy or mimicking another’s smile resides in the Cingulate cortex, an unconscious automatic response area. In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of several emotions: joy, anger, fear and surprise. When the picture of someone smiling was presented, the researchers asked the subjects to frown. Instead, they found that the facial expressions went directly to imitation of what subjects saw. It took conscious effort to turn that smile upside down. So, if you’re smiling at someone, it’s likely they can’t help but smile back. If they don’t, they’re making a conscious effort not to.”
Some people seem to always have a smile on their face, while others may find it difficult to smile, or, more precisely, smile and mean it, feeling the positive emotions. Regardless of which applies to you, just try it. You can practice in a mirror. Be mindful that a smile shows readiness to interact positively and productively. Did you smile at the beginning of every interaction today?
Smiles can be a tool, as in the concept of Sigh, Sip, and smile. Wayne Scott Andersen’s Discover Your Optimal Health presents, “daily habits of a healthy mindset” to live better, healthier, and happier. Andersen’s focus, like the PerfectCoaches method, is habits. He offers complete chapters on “habits of healthy eating”, “healthy motion”, sleep and “healthy mind.”
An interesting piece of advice for handling stress, offered toward the end of his book, is worth noting. One simple way to deal with conflict and stress is to “take a deep breath, drink a sip of water and smile.” Then move on, being mindful of what really matters.