Laughing Friends

Your smile is powerful. It’s usually the first thing we notice about other people, and probably what other people notice about you. Some say that a smile is a window to the soul and can speak volumes about its wearer’s health and happiness. Not only does wearing a smile keep your spirits up and self-confidence high, it can also improve people’s perceptions of you.

The perks of your pearly whites don’t stop with the impression that your smile makes—smiling also offers physical and psychological health benefits. Recent studies show that flashing your sparkly smile may help you appear more youthful, boost your mood, feel more joyful, maintain healthier relationships, and more.

When you feel down in the dumps, especially for reasons you can’t control, flashing a smile has a “magical” way of immediately boosting your mood. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, making your best effort can trick your senses into feeling happier and will likely send you on an upswing. It seems like magic, but it’s actually medically proven that emotions are felt and affected throughout the whole body—not just the brain. Because of this, “faking it until you make it” can actually work wonders even when you’re feeling low.

When a study looked at patients who were physically unable to frown because they recently received BOTOX, it found that they felt consistently happier. Their inability to frown impacted their emotions in a way that made them feel less anxious. Unlike BOTOX, the benefits of smiling often are lasting. Further proving the observation from an earlier study which showed that people with bigger smiles in their high school yearbook tended to be happier later in life.

Speaking of BOTOX, smiling is a way to look younger naturally. With all of the anti-aging creams and remedies on the market, we prefer to go the free route by using the smile on your face. Wearing a happy expression makes people appear more youthful and full of life. While a neutral face can look dull and tired, a beaming smile can add the special sparkle that’s naturally abundant in younger groups.

You never know who’s looking at your smile, so it’s best to keep it on as much as possible. You may run into someone that you’ll eventually work with or meet in an interview. If their first impression of you is positive, that impression will last and will end up playing out in your favor. According to research published in the journal Neuropsychologia, it’s possible that our brains are programmed to pay attention to smiling faces. When participants in a study were shown pictures of people smiling and people with neutral expressions, their brains showed a stronger response to the happy faces.

That positive first impression can also make a huge impact in your personal relationships. From a first date into marriage, smiling leads to high spirits, and high spirits lead to hope and a willingness to compromise and maximize your time together. While a happy relationship and a great job might give you more reason to smile, studies have shown that happiness often precedes success. A happy demeanor can pave the way to achieving your goals and finding success in every aspect of your life.

When it comes to relationships, attraction is key, and often a huge part of first impressions. If you see a stranger across the room with a beautiful smile, you’re likely to be drawn to them and remember their face. If someone smiles in your direction, it’ll cause excitement, and make that other person seem especially attractive. While studies have shown that a smiling woman is especially appealing to men, smiling men don’t tend to have the same effect on women. Females tend to be attracted to more serious faces initially, and a later-discovered beautiful smile is an added bonus.

While smiles are generally positive, they’re also a lot like a cold. But only in the good ways. Just like the common cold and chickenpox, smiles are contagious. You can spread them far and wide to spread happiness to everyone around you. Sometimes all it takes is to catch a grin from a passerby to immediately boost your mood. When we pass strangers on the street, we’re subconsciously trained to smile at them, with the expectation that they will smile back. Passing that smile from person to person is a powerful way of spreading good without saying a word.

In the same way that smiling at strangers can build a sense of community in your city, smiling at work will make people more inclined to work alongside you in a business setting. If you’re working in a collaborative environment that requires teamwork, your colleagues are much more likely to be excited about working with someone who appears cheerful and ready to cooperate. This will ultimately lead to more productivity and greater success.

Forcing yourself to smile may sound simple, but sometimes life throws obstacles your way that are hard to smile through. If you simply can’t muster a grin on your own, you can hold a pen horizontally in your mouth so that it forces the sides of your mouth upwards, and hopefully your emotions will follow suit.

If you already smile every chance you get, it may be because you’re consistently complimented on your grin, which will make you want to show it off. Those compliments are probably earned by taking great care of your teeth and mouth. Great smiles don’t happen overnight: it takes years of dedicated and continued dental hygiene to keep it sparkling and healthy. If you want to reap the benefits of a lifetime of smiles, make sure to maintain your good dental habits and never skip an appointment with your dentist. That’ll keep them smiling too!

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