Retrain Your Brain
Smile Your Way to A Better Life
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
We all have fondness for the grump: Grumpy Cat, Oscar the Grouch, Archie Bunker, Fred Sanford, Aunt [fill in the name of your family member] and, of course, Scrooge. They make us laugh (most of the time). But, how effective are they in life? Do you respond better to a smile or a frown? Does your project or chore flow better when you are grumbling or smiling? This article is not intended to instruct you on how to live your life like Pollyanna. There is real and scientific power in a smile. [Click to Tweet]
When you experience a positive situation, “neuronal signals travel from the cortex of your brain to the brainstem (the oldest part of our brains). From there, the cranial muscle carries the signal further towards the smiling muscles in your face. Once the smiling muscles in our face contract, there is a positive feedback loop that now goes back to the brain and reinforces our feeling of joy.” In fact, “[s]miling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”  Smiling actually produces the same type of happiness as when you exercise “in terms of how our brain responds.”  Smiling creates a happy cycle: when your brain feels good, you smile and when you smile, your brain feels good. [Click to Tweet]
Also, did you know that your brain keeps score? “It knows how often you’ve smiled and which overall emotional state you are in therefore.” 
“Smiling reduces stress that your body and mind feel, almost similar to getting good sleep, according to recent studies. And smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you. That’s why we often feel happier around children – they smile more. On average, they do so 400 times a day. Whilst happy people still smile 40-50 times a day, the average of us only does so 20 times.” 
At University of California – Berkeley, a 30-year longitudinal study analyzed “the smiles of students in an old yearbook, and measured their well-being and success throughout their lives. By measuring the smiles in the photographs the researchers were able to predict: how fulfilling and long lasting their marriages would be, how highly they would score on standardized tests of well-being and general happiness, and how inspiring they would be to others. The widest smilers consistently ranked highest in all of the above.”  Why is this important? Smiling reduces stress-induced hormones that negatively affect your physical and mental health.
Have you ever noticed that people smile more often when they are around children? “Two studies from 2002 and 2011 at Uppsala University in Sweden confirmed that other people’s smiles actually suppress the control we usually have over our facial muscles, compelling us to smile. They also showed that it’s very difficult to frown when looking at someone who smiles.”  In other words, smiling is contagious!
Did you know that you are “actually better looking when you smile[?] 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.”
To sum it all up:
- When you smile, you look good and feel good.
- When others see you smile, they smile too.
- When others smile, they look good and feel good, too
So, how do you perfect the art of smiling? Practice! It sound silly, but practice your smile in front of the mirror. Developing a better smile starts with being very comfortable to smile a lot. [Click to Tweet]
“So now, whenever you want to look great and competent, improve your marriage, or reduce your stress…or whenever you want to feel as good as when you’ve enjoyed a stack of high quality chocolate without incurring the caloric cost, or as if you randomly found 25 grand in the pocket of a jacket you hadn’t worn for ages…or when you want to tap into a superpower and help yourself and others live longer, healthier happier lives…SMILE :-)” 
I would love to hear your stories on the power of your smile. Please comment below and share your happiness.
February 17, 2016
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians