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Are there any benefits of smiling? In today's world when we are collectively feeling stressed, burnout and disillusioned, can an act of smiling help?
Are there any benefits of smiling? In today’s world when we are collectively feeling stressed, burnout and disillusioned, can a simple act of smiling help us?
A study conducted two decades ago by researchers at Yale University gives the women’s club all the right reasons to beam with pride. According to the research, the average woman smiled 62 times a day as opposed to the average man, who smiled just 8 times.
Though often times we women get tired when people ask us to smile for no reason, except because we are women! There are many benefits of smiling, which we should mine for a healthier life!
An avalanche of praise came pouring in for women’s finer skills. Among the bunch of cited reasons were the assertions that women are empathetic, more expressive, and naturally emotional. Hence, they smile more than men.
In the realm of the study, the scientists also explored whether women not being as “socially dominant” as men was a cause for the huge gap.
The study maintained that the difference in smile rate between the genders was more in the teenage years than in adulthood.
Moreover, when placed in similar settings of occupation, power, or social roles, men and women smiled about the same. However, it was stated that women seemed to ace over men when they smiled more to smooth out hurt feelings and restore peace and harmony in a tension-filled scenario.
Research findings are not embedded in stone, and let us not put the two sides at war by proclaiming that women are cheerful and men are grumpy.
Rather, it would benefit us to explore how a smile is beneficial for both physical and emotional well-being.
It is interesting to probe the science-backed health benefits of a smile. Smiling activates tiny molecules called neuropeptides that fight off stress, and this is linked to another upside. Though not the only factor, less stress invariably helps in keeping blood pressure under control.
A smile leads the body to release endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These feel-good neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that the body can’t function without) are instrumental in alleviating one’s mood to create an aura of positivity!
Yes, these terms seem more like tongue twisters, and it needs to be acknowledged that they function amazingly. While endorphins act as a natural pain reliever, serotonin serves as an organic antidepressant.
Laughter, which invariably encompasses a smile, goes a long way in raising the levels of immune cells, thereby boosting the antibodies that fight infection.
Be it your neighbour next door, people that you interact with at work, or the cashier at the grocery store: if you are greeted with a smile, your mood immediately brightens up. Easy communication is facilitated.
Imagine yourself visiting a doctor who comes to see you with a smile on his or her face. It definitely makes you comfortable to discuss your health issues because of the physician’s pleasant demeanour.
They say yawning is contagious. If one person in a group yawns, you will invariably see at least one who follows suit.
A smile has a similar effect. Frank Sinatra had sung, “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you”. It is so true!
Visualize that you have walked into a room and that there are people in there who smile at you. Unless you are miserly like Mr Scrooge and stingy even with a smile, you will inevitably be smiling back at them. Does that not create a spurt of happiness and positivity?
It’s just a curve on the face, but that goes a long way in creating a friendly ambience.
As mentioned earlier, a smile activates the “feel-good hormones”. If you feel happy with that smile, naturally that affects your personality too. You are more likely to believe in your capabilities and will be able to take that stride with an air of confidence.
Happiness is an integral part of the human experience, and it is something that we need to create for ourselves.
The need to be happy has become extremely important in a world in which, “stress”, “burnout”, and “depression” have become so common. Smiling cannot cure mental health issues, but it can help us retain some positivity.
Staying happy helps us to be better people for ourselves and all those around us. “What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity,” goes a quote by Joseph Addison.
So why not spread a little bit of radiance with that smile on your face?
Rashmi Bora Das is a freelance writer settled in the suburbs of Atlanta. She has a master’s degree in English from India, and a second master’s in Public Administration from the University of read more...
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