One morning last week, I stopped by a friend’s home for a quick coffee. I needed a break from my crazy schedule and sharing time with Ite was just what was needed. She is one of those people who makes everything calm and right.
We managed to make almost two hours seem only like minutes. How is it that the best moments in life seem to pass so quickly? We talked about the theme for the upcoming newsletter which was going to be about the power of small acts of kindness.
Ite talked about the effortless act of sharing a smile. She recalled a time when a smile from a stranger changed her mood and day. A simple smile. We both knew that this is the act of kindness that needed to be highlighted. She said, “A smile can brighten your day.” I added, “No power or electricity needed.” Together we smiled at our co-creation.
Charles Darwin first wrote about facial expression and emotion in 1872. Since then, thousands of research projects have studied how smiling affects not only the person smiling but the person receiving the smile.
Smiling activates the feel good neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. Since we know smiling has a contagion effect, then the act of smiling at another person causes them to smile, which in turn activates their feel good neurotransmitters.
We all have experienced at some point that smiling positively affects our moods. Remember a time when you were feeling down and someone walked by and smiled. In that moment your negative mood was interrupted and the potential for positive change was introduced.
Sometimes we smile authentically, other times we force a smile, then there are the times when we cannot help but smile spontaneously because of a person, a baby’s laugh, a funny memory or any number of other reasons. Research shows, that even if we force ourselves to smile, our brains will automatically start producing those happy neurotransmitters and an actual physiological and psychological change occurs.
It would seem that my Dad did know best when he sang the Nat King Cole song “Smile”, when I was sad. “...Smile … and you’ll see the sun come shining through for you.”
Please, give yourself and those you pass by the gift of a smile and all the health benefits that go along with it. You, others and our little world will be a better place just because of the gift of the simple smile.
For more information on Community Support Services and spreading happiness go to our newsletter Newsletter Section.