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The strength of a smile

Monday or not, there’s always those rare few who spring off the train platform, with that extra bounce and merriment, which makes everyone shudder at the thought of being that bright, especially with a whole week ahead of them. I challenge every last one of you to be that person. Ok, maybe not to the length that it looks like you’ve got a set of coat hanger braces stuck inside your mouth, but at least to the extent that it doesn’t appear like the worlds all doom and gloom.

Here, at the appropriately named GRIN, a positive attitude is paramount to the office environment. Our lovely Ali has recently presented us with a lovely feature, on the studio wall, in which we all list something that has made us happy that day. This same method is highlighted on actionforhapiness’ 4th step. Finding three good things each day to change our focus, from being on all the things which might not have gone as well as we had hoped, to the things that we most commonly overlook and take for granted. “From ancient scriptures to the latest science, gratitude is known to be good for us and those around us. Yet it isn’t always our automatic response and we often take the good things in our lives for granted. So we have to consciously learn to get into the habit of being grateful.” [1] These smile inducing reminders can be as trivial as listening to the birds in the morning to getting a raise at work! This got me thinking about all the benefits which come bundled up with the universally acknowledged facial expression – the smile.

In “The Origin of Species”, Charles Darwin’s theory states that we do not actually smile as a result of being happy but actually we are happy as a result of smiling. Combine this with the fact that British researchers found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate, or similar levels of stimulation, to receiving in excess of £15,000, we should all be walking around like Cheshire Cats.

Now I’m sure a lot of us now probably want a few hundred chocolate bars but, unlike these bars of guilt, smiling actually makes us healthier as it can reduce our level of stress-enhancing hormones; increase mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins and reduce overall blood pressure. Now, to top it all off, smiling can even make us more likeable and appear more attractive and competent, which never hurt anyone.

Uppsala University in Sweden held a study which found that smiling is evolutionary contagious making it very difficult to frown at someone who’s smiling, as mimicking a smile helps us understand whether or not their smile is genuine.

If you haven’t already watched the above, Ron Gutman gives a really informative TEDTalk on, “The hidden power of smiling” which I’d really recommend watching by either scrolling back up to the video or clicking here.

So if you’re struggling this morning, drop that chocolate bar, brush those teeth and flash those gums.