If you know me well, you'll know I smile a lot. I have big smile lines etched in my face from making that beaming toothy smile that spreads right across my face!
Why focus on smiles? Well, of all the 328 Focus on WHY podcast recordings to date, a third of my guests have mentioned smiling at some point in the conversation! They recognise the value of putting a smile on people's faces with the purpose-driven work they do. Living with purpose brings joy, fulfilment and happiness which naturally leads to a lot of smiling all round!
But what else is in a smile? I decided to do some research and I was shocked at what I found.
Did you know that smiling is the first expression we learn? Well, apparently you are born with the ability to reflex smile then after two months you smile for real. I remember the first toothless smiles of my two children. They were incredibly special moments and their first giggle, absolutely priceless! Smiles are so contagious. It's hard not to smile back at someone especially a baby or a child.
Smiling is a universal communicator indicating happiness across almost all cultures of the world. When you smile, it relaxes other people and makes you appear more approachable and attractive. Smiling instigates connection and demonstrates to others that you are confident, happy and capable.
When you smile, endorphins are released and stress is reduced. Endorphins lift your mood and also act as a natural painkiller. Smiling boosts your immune system and contributes to your overall wellbeing. Whilst there are many health benefits to smiling, apparently we smile a lot less as adults than we do as children. If you want to live longer, smile more!
There's more... Not all smiles are happy ones! Apparently of the 19 different types of smiles, only six are related to happiness and represent enjoyment. Check out this BBC article for more on this. The remaining smiles represent other emotions and are less about what you feel internally but more about what you want to communicate externally to other people.
The smile is purely a facade feigning happiness yet the emotion being conveyed is in fact fear, loss, pain, embarrassment, discomfort, lying, anger, sadness, horror, contempt, distress or incredulity. It is up to you to decipher the meaning behind the smile which you see in front of you.
I hadn't thought about this before but now I recall smiling with embarrassment when I was 12 as my teacher handed me back my test result. I glanced down at the score. I had not done well and so I gave her one of my biggest, toothiest grins. She said, "smiles won't get you everywhere, Amy." Goodness, I came crashing back to earth with a thud. Contrary to my teacher’s advice though smiles have served me well in life. I say carry on smiling because your smile is telling you something important about how you are feeling in the moment.
Next time you smile or someone smiles at you, check whether it is happiness-based or whether it has another meaning behind it.
Focus on Smiling!
ACTION POINT - Smile. It's good for you and it's good for others too! If you want to live longer, smile more!