World Smile Day: Smiling is a natural antidepressant sans side effects
Positive Vibes Oct 06, 2017
World Smile Day: Smiling is a natural antidepressant sans side effects

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.”

– Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin very well understood the benefits of a smile and how it can make a difference in life. It’s just that everyone needs to feel it and internalize it. One must have realized how a glance at a smiling face, even if it is for a fleeting moment, can help make one feel better instantly. Doctors, scientists and spiritual teachers are also of the opinion that the simple act of smiling can help not just the individuals but even those around them. Smiling helps in improving mood and reducing stress – it can also make an individual more likeable, courteous, sincere, attractive and approachable. Smile is a powerful tool which promotes health and happiness.

An attractive smile is the most effective first impression. Smiling induces happiness and makes people more productive, which in turn increases the chance of better appraisals, accelerated promotions and higher incomes. Since smiling and happiness are contagious, happy coworkers can improve the team’s morale and boost overall productivity.

Harvey Ross Ball, designer of the “smiley,” conceived the idea of “World Smile Day” to emphasize that each individual across the world should set aside a day every year to smile and perform acts of kindness. He believed the smiley face to be immune from politics, geography and religion. Ball declared that the first Friday of every October would be celebrated as World Smile Day, a tradition being followed since 1999.

It’s all about brain chemistry

Smiling has a direct impact on the brain. A higher tendency to smile leads to a greater ability of preventing the brain from generating negative thoughts. Smiling regularly rewires the brain to produce positive thinking patterns more frequently than negative ones. Past research has found that seeing an attractive, smiling face activates the orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region associated with processing sensory rewards. The research showed that the responses in the region “were further enhanced by a smiling facial expression,” suggesting a direct correlation between seeing a smiling face and perceived reward value.

Shawn Achor, a happiness researcher, speaker and author of the book “The Happiness Advantage,” has spoken about retraining the brain “to scan for the good things in life – to help us see more possibility, to feel more energy, and to succeed at higher levels.” Terming this phenomenon “The Positive Tetris Effect,” he likens it to the popular video game “Tetris” where players continue seeing Tetris blocks in real life even after the game has concluded. Achor recommends practicing more positive thinking patterns to eventually create an interminable happiness circle that will help in keeping mental problem at bay.

Smiling triggers the release of neuropeptides – tiny molecules that facilitate communication between neurons – which help in alleviating stress. A smile helps release endorphins and “feel-good” neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin which help relax the body and lower heart rate and blood pressure. Endorphins function as natural pain relievers. The release of serotonin acts as an antidepressant without the negative side effects. Moreover, it is a completely natural process unlike chemical antidepressants and it does not need a doctor’s prescription.

Smiling does not cost anything. Letting go of stress by smiling can lead to life-changing consequences.

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