Each time you smile you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness.
For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress. Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, excited. The feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well2 (cite reference below). This not only relaxes your body, but also lowers your blood pressure and heart rate.
The endorphins also act as a natural pain reliever, 100% organically and without the potential negative side effects of synthetics.
Finally, the serotonin release brought on by your smile serves as an anti-depressant/mood lifter. Many of today’s pharmaceutical anti-depressants also influence the levels of serotonin in your brain, but with a smile, you don’t have to worry about negative side effects, and you don’t need a prescription from your doctor.
How Smiling Affects Your Body
You are actually better looking when you smile, and we’re not just trying to butter you up. When you smile, people treat you differently. You’re viewed as attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere. A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing an attractive smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that process sensory rewards. This suggests that when you view a person smiling, you actually feel rewarded.
It also explains the 2011 findings by researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Subjects were asked to rate smiling and attractiveness. They found that both men and women were more attracted to images of people who made eye contact and smiled than those who did not. If you don’t believe it, see how many looks you get when you walk outside with a smile on your face.
How Smiling Affects Those Around You
Did you know that your smile is actually contagious? The part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression when smiling happily or when mimicking another’s smile resides in the cingulate cortex, an unconscious automatic response area. In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of several emotions: joy, anger, fear and surprise. When the picture of someone smiling was presented, the researchers asked the subjects to frown. Instead, they found that the facial expressions went directly to imitation of what subjects saw . It took a conscious effort to turn that smile into a frown. So if you’re smiling at someone, it’s likely they can’t help but smile back. If they don’t, they are likely making a conscious effort not to.
Looking at the bigger picture, each time you smile at a person, their brain coaxes them to return the favor. You are creating a symbiotic relationship that allows both of you to release feel good chemicals in your brain, activate reward centers, and make you both more attractive while increasing the chances of you both living longer, healthier lives.
If you want a healthy confident smile, give us a call at Evelyn G. Ascough, DDS: (619) 298-0821.
Thank you to author Riggio, Ronald E. “There’s Magic In Your Smile.”, Psychology Today, 25 June, 2012. Post.