The power of a smile

Like it is often said, a long face goes a long way. A smile is one of the most powerful and most underrated gifts that we possess.

It embodies our ability to create and our ability to express the infinite love that is within us. So many of us go through our days dragging our feet, lamenting our struggles, waiting for this or that to happen to cheer us up and we forget that all the while, we have this incredible tool at our disposal to raise our spirits. When we smile, something lights up inside us; we connect with our Source and we are actually able to alter our mood. What is even more amazing is that we can share this gift with others.

The only thing more powerful than one person smiling is two people smiling at each other. We all know that wonderful feeling we get when we look into someone’s eyes, and with the simple exchange of a smile, a world of meaning is communicated. It can be an expression of love, of joy or of laughter. Smiling is contagious, as is laughter, and the only thing they cost us is whatever suffering we are holding on to. When you smile at another person you not only let them feel that they are wanted, accepted and appreciated, but you also give encouragement as well.

Psychologists have actually found that a smile is a powerful tool. Most people think that we smile because we feel happy, but it can go the other way as well: we feel happy because we smile.

One of the best experiments to demonstrate this came from the late ‘80s.  According to Psychology Today, the researchers did not want to influence the results by telling subjects that the study was about emotion, so they devised an ingenious way to get the subjects to flex certain muscles of their face without knowing why. They had subjects hold a pencil in one of three ways. The first group held the pencil width-wise between their teeth, forcing a smile. The second group held the pencil in their lips lengthwise, which means they could not smile, and were actually making kind of a frown. The control group held the pencil in their hand. Then the subjects looked at some cartoons, and rated how funny they were. The smile group gave the cartoons much higher funny ratings than the frown group, while the control group was somewhere in the middle.

In an interview Sociology graduate Tumelo Othusitse says that she believes that a smile invites a smile.  Clichéd as it may sound, when you smile, the whole world smiles with you.  “By smiling at someone, you have the capacity to ignite a chain of other smiles,” she says, adding that a smile changes life for the better. One simple smile has the power to calm fear, insecurity, hurt, and anxiety. It has the power within it to change the world because smiles can be shared. They are infectious. When you smile at another person you pass all the wonderful benefits of smiling on to that person.

People who are always sourpuss can change their lives with a smile. It is as if, when we are uptight and stressed and hidden or buried our smile, it impacts on our lives. “People who are always sulky rarely win true friends and miss out on great opportunities,” adds Othusitse.

Beauty queens score more points when they smile. This is an indication that a smile enhances beauty. It radiates on people when they are around others.  In some western countries, June 15 is officially Power of a Smile Day.  It is a day set aside for people to just smile and during that day, smiles become a greeting. People gather to just smile and the best smile wins.

But here is a warning according to experts: A natural smile produces characteristic wrinkles around the eyes – insincere people smile only with their mouth.

Last modified on Friday, 25 October 2013 09:18

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