How often does someone tell you to smile when you’re having a crummy day? Someone telling you to cheer up usually doesn’t have the desired effect when you’re in a bad mood, but recent scientific studies have shown that smiling alone can brighten your mood, reduce stress, boost your immune system and even extend your life.
How Smiling Affects Us
Typically, we think of happiness, joy, or excitement as causes of our smile, but it turns out the opposite is true as well. When we smile, the brain reacts to that muscle activity assuming something good or humorous is taking place. This sets off a chemical reaction in the brain, activating the release of neuropeptides, which transmit hormones including dopamine and serotonin. These hormones are commonly associated with feelings of happiness and relaxation, reducing stress by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure and making you feel at ease. The physical act of smiling—even if you don’t feel happy—can trick your brain into believing that you are!
Psychoneuroimmunologists (a big term for scientists who study the connection between the brain and immune system) have shown time and again that depression weakens our immune systems—making us more susceptible to illness and other health problems—while happiness can increase our resistance to such things.
How Smiling Affects Others
Now that we’ve learned the incredible benefits smiling can have on ourselves, it begs the question; what happens when someone smiles at us?
We have something called mirror neurons that respond to certain actions. These neurons encourage us to copy the behavior we observe in others. They have been linked to human’s capacity for empathy and they are also the culprits that make those late afternoon yawns so contagious.
The same thing happens when a smile is sent our way. We get the urge to smile back. In fact, smiling is so contagious, you can catch one from yourself. Smiling at yourself in the mirror triggers those mirror neurons and can help calm you down if you’re feeling anxious or upset.
What’s Cookin’, Good Lookin’?
If all this hasn’t already got you grinning, get this: smiling makes you more attractive.
When you smile, people treat you differently. You’re viewed as someone to trust because you appear at ease and sincere. A study published in the journal, Neuropsychologia reports that seeing an attractive smile activates the orbitofrontal cortex—the region in your brain that processes sensory rewards. This means that when you receive a smile, your brain reacts as if you’re being rewarded.
In yet another study, subjects were asked to rate the attractiveness of smiling and unsmiling people in photographs. They found that both men and women were more attracted to the depictions of those who smiled than those who did not.
Change Your Smile, Change Your Life
This is all well and good, but there are several reasons someone might choose not to smile; one of which is a smile they’re not proud of.
Here at Family SmileCare Center, we can help you achieve a smile you can’t wait to share with the world. We offer services ranging from preventative dentistry to orthodontics and other cosmetic procedures, ensuring that your dental needs are met.
If you would like to improve your smile, contact our office today. Improve your own life and help make the world a better place!