Do you have any idea how powerful a simple smile is? I sure didn’t. Last night I watched the attached TED Talk where Ron Gutman, the CEO of HealthTap, explained the benefits of something we can do every single day—smile.
Gutman said he got his start from a study done at Berkley that tracked graduates over a 30-year period. What they did is first examine and then measure the smiles from students found in their graduation yearbook. From the smiles they measured they were able to predict how fulfilling and long-lasting the individuals married relationships would be, how well they would score on a standardized test for well-being, and finally how inspiring they would be to others. Wow—makes you wish you could go back and take that photo again right?
Another university study done in 2010 looked into measuring the smiles on pre-1950s major league baseball players on old baseball cards. The research showed that the span of the players smile could actually predict lifespan. That’s right, the size of the smile added nearly eight years to the player’s life! Besides living longer, lots of smiling reduce stress hormones, increase mood-enhancing hormones and reduces overall blood pressure. Even better, smiling makes us even better looking and confident in the eyes of others.
The good news is that we are born smiling. Babies smile naturally and smiling is one of the most basic biological expression of humans. Just over a third of all adults smile over 20 times a day, and 14 percent smile less than five. On the other hand, children smile as much as 400 times each day.
Ever wonder why it is so infectious when other people smile? Not only is it a biological response, a study in Sweden shows that it is very difficult to frown when looking at someone else that is smiling. Why? Smiling helps us navigate social situations from an evolutionary biological perspective. It also stimulates areas of our brain and mental processing. In fact, even more studies found that just one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate. They also found that smiling is as mentally stimulating as receiving up to $25,000 in cash!
Obviously, if we want to experience a happier and more rewarding life we would all benefit from smiling more. If we want to live SMART every day, why wish for chocolate or for piles of cash—just smile!
I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.” Mother Teresa.