Smiling can be traced through more than 30 million years of evolution.
A study by Japan’s Kyoto University has observed that human infants and chimpanzee infants show the same spontaneous smiles, leading researchers to infer that the origin of a smile went through million years of evolution.
Smiling is so innate that when blind and non-blind athletes were observed, both displayed the same expressions of happiness and other emotions — a negation of the perpetuated idea that it is through seeing others that people learn how to match facial configurations.
Smiling is universal, an idea going all the way back to English naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin ‘s 1872 work The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. In his book, Darwin concluded that the same facial expressions govern the basic emotions namely happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, disgust, and fear in all human beings.
Despite the act of smiling being archaic, innate, and universal, many individuals still find it difficult to flash a smile. Compared to children who smiles as much as 400 times daily, 14 percent of adults smile less than five times a day. Even those who beam more than 20 times a day only comprise 30 percent of the population.
The numbers are no longer surprising considering the result of a survey of 1,000 18 to 25-year-olds which reveals that young adults spend six hours a day being “stressed out” by money, appearance, career worries, and fears of the future.
If you are one of the people who cannot find the reason to smile, here are some benefits of smiling you need to know right now too, at the very least, give you a motivation to flash your pearly whites.
It Calms You
The days may be long, and the hours may be grueling at work or in school, but a smile can help you destress, according to psychological scientists Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman of the University of Kansas.
In the study Kraft and Pressman conducted, it was found that holding a smile on your face in times of stress can help you recover from stressful episodes. People with a genuine smile called Duchenne smile were observed to have lower heart rates. But even people whose muscles were forced to show a smile by holding chopsticks in their mouths demonstrated lower heart rates compared to people with neutral facial expressions.
So, if you find yourself under stress, take a step back and flash a smile to calm yourself down somehow. In the first place, it requires less facial muscles at work to lift your lips up than pull them down.
It Lifts Your Mood More Than Chocolate And Money — For Free! Plus, You End Up Bringing Joy To Others Too!
Smile when you’re happy, but did you know, smiling can make you happy too? Researchers in Britain have found that smiling can stimulate the reward mechanisms of the brain than chocolates, money, and sex. Because our brain releases serotonin and other neurotransmitters when we smile, our mood improves by the simple act.
Moreover, the benefits of smiling go beyond the self. In a study, participants who saw a child’s smile had the same level of stimulation as they would have had from getting 16,000 Pound Sterling in cash and eating 2,000 bars of chocolates. Of course, not all smiles are perfect and if your child is a bit self-conscious about their smile or their teeth are causing them issues you may want to consult a pediatric dentist to help improve your child or teen’s oral health.
According to Dr. David Lewis who wrote The Secret Language of Success, our brain chemistry changes when someone smiles at us, and we smile back. We then feel more optimistic and more motivated.
It Helps You Live A Longer Life
Aside from the pleasure a smile can give us, the simple gesture of smiling can also make you live longer. When you smile, a chemical reaction takes place in your brain which activates the small molecules used by your neurons to communicate with one another called neuropeptides. These neuropeptides influence your brain and body activities, relaxing it and reducing stress levels.
Additionally, when you smile neurotransmitters like endorphin, dopamine, and serotonin lowers blood pressure, serves as a natural pain reliever, and mood lifter, resulting in a lower risk of stroke and heart disease. Moreover, an inflammation on the cellular level due to stress has been identified as a risk factor for cell mutation and diseases that can lead to cancer.
Moreover, a study conducted by experts at the Wayne State University in Michigan has also found a link that smiling can lengthen a person’s life. Through the analysis of 230 pictures of major league baseball players from the 1952 Baseball Register, it was found that 184 players who did not smile in their photos had an average life of 72.9 years, while those who were partially smiling in their photographs had lived an average of 75 years. The baseball players who were beaming widely were found to have lived seven more years — an average of 79.9 years — than those who did not smile.
It Makes You Look Younger, Confident, And Trustworthy
According to research, it only takes the first seven seconds of a meeting for someone to decide whether they like or dislike someone. And among anything else, the first thing people notice when meeting someone new is the smile.
When you smile, you appear more likable and courteous, and people view you as competent. Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy said that smiling is a simple and effective way to convey warmth.
In the research of New York University, people who look happier are seen as more trustworthy compared to those who seem angry or sad. Not only that, smiling lifts the facial muscles, making an individual appear younger.
It Leads To Better Marriages
Believe it or not, your smile can predict the health of your marriage in the future. In a study published in the Motivation and Emotion journal, researchers saw a probable link between the smiling and frowning faces of alumni in their childhood photos and the status of their marriage.
Using 306 photos of former psychology majors now ages 23 to 87 and 349 photos of other alumni from different majors with an average age of 46 who were all reported to being in a serious committed relationship at one point, the study revealed that those whose smiles rank in the bottom ten percent are five times more likely to experience a divorce than those whose smiles are at the upper ten percent.
Psychologist and The Power of Two: Secrets to a Strong and Loving Marriage, Susan Heitler noted that such correlation is possible as the smile is also linked to the positive vibe or attitude — being relaxed, optimistic, attentive, and responsive to others — a person is emanating.
Such traits, according to Heitler, can help in strengthening relationships. She said that the ability to arrive at win-win decisions in times of conflicts results in higher marital satisfaction.
Another study from the DePauw University, which used high school yearbook photos, echoed the same correlation that beaming childhood photos can be an indication of a successful marriage.
Psychologist Matthew Hertenstein of DePauw University said those who look happier in photos are more likely to put up with partners because they do not want to look unhappy. Moreover, Hertenstein added that the results are in line with other studies which shows the importance of positive emotionality in people’s lives.
But if you are one of those kids who hates smiling in photos, fret not, as the secret to long-lasting marriage remains on the hands (and smiles) of your present-day relationship.
So, do not hold back and flash your smile now for a calmer, healthier, and energy-boosting day. And make sure to share your smiles with others to perk up their days.