Mother Teresa said "peace begins with a smile," but is it true for health too? I was in my office and couldn't help but laugh when a patient walked in. He was a relatively new patient visiting for a checkup that revealed good news.
I could tell he had a twisted and energetic sense of humor. He was biting on a blue plastic stick that was about six inches long, creating a gigantic grin on his face. I tried to ignore it (just to irritate him), but I had to break down and ask,"What the heck is that?"
It turns out that he had become a student of the health benefits of smiling, so I humbled myself and listened. He had designed the stick -- called, simply, a Smile Stick -- as a tool to help achieve the most therapeutic smile called a Duchenne smile. A Duchenne smile involves the whole face all the way up to the eyes.
Whether you feel like smiling or not, there are at least 11 benefits that can improve your health and life success.
1. Smiling reduces stress and anxiety.
2. Smiling releases the "feel-good" hormones called endorphins from your brain.
3. Smiling helps control pain.
4. Smiling strengthens your immune system.
5. Smiling makes you perform better.
6. Smiling may help you feel more comfortable in social settings.
7. Smiling makes you appear more trustworthy.
8. Smiling puts others at ease.
9. Smiling helps you be a better leader.
10. Smiling can help you stay positive
11. Smiling helps with business success.
Whether you use the Smile Stick (I have no affiliation with the company) or just force a big grin, smiling is a no-cost wellness tool that can improve your life.
Even better, smiling has been shown to be contagious, and you can help the health of others by walking into a room with a big smile.
Marilyn Monroe said, "Keep on smiling because life is a beautiful thing and there is so much to smile about." The science would add that it is beneficial to smile big, even if life isn't so beautiful at the moment, and your luck may turn around for the better.