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New-Thought

Smiling is a super power

We’re the only ones who can change it. It’s up to us.

Life has changed greatly since last spring, and it’s showing on our faces. It concerns me because we’re missing out on an important ingredient for our health and happiness.

Furrowed brows and downcast eyes are more prevalent these days. Our degree of separation has deepened, even when we’re together.

Recently, in a long-line outside a store, I paused to take in the faces of people as they waited. With downcast eyes and furrowed brows, we were alone together.

It doesn’t have to be this way; we can still connect and, while we’re doing it, receive the benefits of one of our most primal acts — smiling.

I have no intention of debating the mask issue here. That’s not what this column’s about. I’m only here to offer a remedy to the increased sense of isolation many are experiencing.

It turns out smiling is a simple, but powerful practice that supports our health and happiness.

I love being around people who smile. I can detect a smile, even behind a mask.

I was curious; is smiling simply a nicety or is there more to it?

Scientists were also curious about the effects of smiling, and I like what they’ve revealed.

While there’s a strong-link between the toothy grin and longevity, there are even more immediate benefits we can experience on a daily basis.

Smiling:

  • Reduces stress hormones and decreases the stress response
  • Elevates moods, through stimulating positive neurotransmitters in the brain
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves confidence
  • Is like a natural pain-killer. It makes us feel better, even reducing body pain
  • Increases energy and motivation
  • Helps us look on the bright side, even when challenge arises
  • Make us more attractive and appear younger
  • Makes us appear more competent and successful
  • Is contagious, and is one of the best viruses we can spread.

Smiling sends a reward signal to our brains, which then sends a signal of happiness to the body. This makes it a great diet strategy. It becomes a positive-feedback loop. A genuine smile positively changes our brains.

The scientist within me decided to conduct my own experiment to find out, for myself, if a simple smile could make me feel better. I must admit, at first it felt odd, smiling for nothing, but then I noticed a shift inside my body.

Letting our eyes smile is an important part of the equation. I remember to smile more broadly these days, to transmit my smile to others. I’m well rehearsed in this from my years as a nurse. I love the results.

I now make it a practice to remember to smile, especially when I’m wearing a mask or feeling stressed. Instead of letting my face harden into my old mask of concentration, I pause and remember to smile.

I allow the muscles around my eyes and the corners of my mouth to soften and lift. I can feel the changes this makes to my body and within my mind.

The scientists are right, and I’ve learned I don’t have to wait for something to smile about.

While a genuine smile is the most effective, even a forced smile, moving the facial muscles causes a positive shift inside our brains and bodies.

Researcher Andrew Newberg offered suggestions to learn how to create a genuine smile.

“Visualize someone they deeply love, or recall an event that brought them deep satisfaction and joy. It’s such an easy exercise, and we train people to do it.”

I used to wait until there was something to smile about, but no more. I don’t let a mask reduce my ability to connect and receive the benefits of this primal act.

In doing so, I’ve found more reasons to smile. I’ve made it a practice, even pausing to smile before answering the phone. People can tell if your smiling, even if they can’t see you.

Smile, you just might like it! So might others you encounter, even with a mask on.



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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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