1. It Improves Your Mood
As smiling releases feel-good neurotransmitters – dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – it can instantly make you feel more positive. It’s even been found to be beneficial for people struggling with anxiety and depression; one study discovered when people who were feeling down made themselves smile, their mood improved and their positive thoughts increased.
2. It Lowers Stress Levels
Smiling lowers stress levels both psychologically and physically – firstly, it can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, making us feel less anxious and more relaxed. Secondly, it can help slow down a rapid heart rate. A 2012 study, published in Psychological Science, showed that putting on a smile during stressful tasks was enough to reduce participants heart rates, whether the smiles were genuine or not.
3. It’s A Form Of Pain Relief
Thanks to those endorphins – the body’s own natural painkiller – smiling can act as an alternative to pain relief by increasing your pain threshold, meaning you have a higher tolerance to pain. A recent US study even found that people who smiled while getting injected with a needle reported up to 40% less pain than people who didn’t.
4. It Increases Alertness & Productivity
Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate can’t match, due to the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with motivation and focus. British researchers at Hewlett Packard even discovered that one smile can have the same effect as up to 2,000 chocolate bars – with smiling capable of stimulating the brain as much as receiving £16,000 in cash.
5. It Makes You Seem More Confident & Competent
If that’s not enough, smiling can also make us look good in the eyes of others. A Penn State University study confirmed that when we smile we not only appear more likeable and courteous, but we’re actually perceived to be more competent. Studies have shown that people who smile regularly are more likely to be perceived as confident, more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached.
6. It Boosts Your Immune System
We've all heard the expression ‘Laughter is the best medicine’, and it seems it could be true: major health organisation Mayo Clinic reports that smiling, laughter and positive thoughts release signalling molecules in your brain that fight stress and illnesses, while negative thoughts decrease your body’s immunity.
7. It Could Help You Lead A Happier Life
In a study of US high school students’ yearbook photos, psychologists tracked the lives of women who had the biggest smiles in the snaps. What they discovered? Women who smiled the most in their teenage photos ended up living happier lives, having happier marriages and experiencing fewer setbacks.
8. It’s Been Linked To Living Longer
A 2010 research project examining the baseball cards photos of Major League players in 1952 found a clear link between how big a player’s smile was and how long they lived. The people who smiled the most turned out to live seven years longer than those who didn’t. Although there’s not a clear cause-and-effect in this case, smiling has been shown to improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and heart rate, which could be the reason why it’s linked to longer life.
9. It Makes Other People Happy
As smiling is evolutionarily contagious (we have a subconscious innate drive to smile when we see one, even among strangers), it’s one of the simplest ways you can spread more positivity in your day-to-day life. Two Swedish studies from 2002 and 2011 confirmed that not only does seeing someone else smile make us feel compelled to do the same, it also suppresses the control we usually have over our facial muscles – meaning it’s very difficult to frown when looking at someone with a smile on their face.