As the song from the musical Annie goes, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” A smile should be part of your daily attire—and scientists agree: More smiling is what we all need right now.
You may have heard that even if you force a smile when you’re down, it’s still likely to improve your mood. As Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh once stated, “Your joy can be the source of your smile, but sometimes, your smile can be the source of your joy.”
Smiling triggers a biological response that we often take for granted. Research shows that smiling releases endorphins (natural pain relievers) and serotonin (the “feel good” neurotransmitter). Additionally, it can lower blood pressure, relieve stress, and boost your immune system.
Smiles can also be an important part of business relationships. When we coach people to give presentations, pitches, or media interviews, we always pay attention to how frequently they smile. That’s because smiling creates trust, inspires empathy, and conveys credibility and confidence. Smiles make communication more effective because there’s an automatic attraction to people who smile. Plus, they’re contagious, so your smile can help others feel good too. (Same holds true for grumpy moods: they’re contagious too, so don’t be an Eeyore and spread your anxiety and gloom.)
If smiling sounds like an easy prescription for a better life, remember it can be bit more challenging when wearing a mask. You need to “smile with your eyes”—also known as the Duchenne smile. Named after the French researcher who identified the impact of a genuine smile, the Duchenne smile involves the facial muscles that reach your eyes and creates the lines called crow’s feet. Recent research in facial feedback using MRI scans supports Duchenne’s early work.
Here are two important takeaways about smiling:
- As leaders, we can create more water cooler moments and fun activities online by sharing smiles with our co-workers, customers, and friends. Teams that laugh (and smile) together, work better together.
- You can start practicing your smile with purposeful intent.
It doesn’t cost anything to smile. Try it. It’s free—and it looks good on you!
Want to meet the smiling faces at LMD? Contact us.