Sajeev got into the train from Kottayam railway station. There was enough rush in the compartment but luckily he could find a vacant seat. When he was about to sit, the young man near to the seat smiled at him heartily and moved a bit to accommodate him. Impressed by his behavior, Sajeev thankfully smiled at him and asked; “Are you going to
“Yes”; he replied.
“I am also to Trivandrum”, Sajeev stated happily.
Then, they continued their conversation enthusiastically. He had travelled in the same train several times with many others without even uttering a word to each other. But this was a different experience. His welcoming warm smile and pleasing behavior touched the heart of Sajeev. Both of them shared their views and talked to each other intimately for hours. They actually became close friends with that travel and continued their cherished friendship unendingly thereafter. Really, everything began with a simple smile.
The power of smile
The Tibetan Spiritual leader Dalai Lama once said; ‘A simple smile; that’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others’. Smile is the language of the soul. It can make warm relations and strong friendships. It’s an inexpensive gift we can give to anybody. It’s regarded as a token of your love and compassion. It conveys your acknowledgement and acceptance. It’s a powerful body language to build proper rapport with others. A genuine smile can nurture and nourish your relations. Smile has got tremendous powers to influence others and make them happy, as well as yourself. It’s an international language of love and acceptance. It’s a powerful means of communication understood everywhere in the globe, irrespective of culture, language, region and religion. Generally, politicians and social workers use smile as a powerful tool for influencing people.
The science of smile
It was Charles Darwin who first studied scientifically about smiling and other emotions. He showed that the cause, consequence and manifestation of smiling are universal. It is found that smiling is a genetic tendency for humans. In other words, humans are hardwired for smiling. Researchers observed that even babies born blind can smile and hence this is not a learned behavior as claimed by a few scientists.
British researchers have found that smile strongly stimulate our brain’s reward mechanisms. One smile can provide the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2000 chocolate bars. The behavioral psychologist and researcher, Sarah Stevenson says that smiling ‘elevates your mood and creates a sense of wellbeing. Each time you smile, the feel good chemicals, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins are released in the brain, thereby changing your inner feelings and making you feel happier. In addition to this, your bodily pain also will be relieved.
A 2017 research showed that the brain chemicals, released during smiling can calm your nervous system by lowering heart rate and blood pressure.
University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) researchers found that people who had happy smiles on their face looked younger than their actual age, while, people with frowns on their faces looked older. Smiling gives a sudden face lift without spending a single rupee.
Research has found that even artificial smile can boost your mood. Usually, a joyful experience makes us smile. But, even a forced smile can make us joyful. This is supported by the facial feedback hypothesis that your facial movement during smiling can influence emotional experience. This idea was beautifully expressed by the famous Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist and writer as; ‘Sometimes, your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes, your smile can be the source of your joy’
Dr. Eva Ritzo, a psychiatrist and author, recommends smiling at yourself in the mirror, if you are feeling low or anxious, as a prescription for bringing calmness and elevating your mood.
Famous views about smile power
Charlie Chaplin once pointed out; ‘You will find that life is still worth while, if you just smile.’
Ron Gutman, the famous writer and speaker in his Ted talk titled, ‘The hidden power of smiling’ presented passionately the power of smiling and it became viral in social media and u-tube. This talk was translated into 46 languages. His presentation was watched by more than 5 million viewers within a short span of time. In 2012, he published a Ted book titled; ‘Smile; Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act’. In this popular book, he explains the personal and social benefits of smiling with the support of his cross cultural experiences and scientific research findings. Also, he has aptly quoted the writings of Samson Raphael Hirsch, a German orthodox rabbi and intellectual founder of Orthodox Judaism.
It was in the 19 th century the German rabbi and religious thinker, Hirsch, authentically rote about the miraculous powers of smile. He aptly stated; ‘A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad and is nature’s best antidote for trouble, yet, it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to any one until it is given away’. He also advised all; ‘If someone is too tired to give you a smile, leave one of your own, because no one needs a smile as much as those
who have none to give’.
Many psychologists hold the view that Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting Mona Lisa became one of the most acclaimed paintings of all times because of her unusually unique, luring smile that touches the heart and illuminates the soul of each viewer.
World Smile day
The physical, mental and social benefits of smiling have been accepted all over the world. To create an awareness of the benefits of smiling among all classes of people, world smile day is celebrated every year. The first Friday of October, every year is selected for this.
It was Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Massachusetts, who introduced this idea and took initiative to celebrate the first world smile day in 1999. Since then it is celebrated every year. After Ball’s death in
2001, a foundation was formed in his honor and memory, and this foundation works as the sponsor of the world smile day celebrations everywhere, every year. October 4 th will be the world smile day in 2019.
Holistic benefits of smiling
Science has clearly proved that smiling can bring you a host of astonishing benefits; physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
It is found that smiling reduces blood pressure and lower the heart rate and relaxes the body. Smiling boosts your body’s immune system. Studies have found that smiling make people look younger; about 3 years younger on average. One UMKC study showed that smiling can make you look thinner also.
A Wayne state university study in 2010 found that smiling habit can enhance a person’s lifespan by about 7 years.
Several research findings show that smiling can elevate your mood and create a sense of well being. Smiling is the best natural antidepressant. MRI Scans show that smiling activates the orbital frontal cortex of the brain which is related to the feeling of sensory rewards and hence creates the same feeling of pleasure as receiving a gift. In short, when you put a smile on your face, you will feel stress free and happier. As the famous American actor, comedian and musician, Tom Wilson once said; ‘A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose’.
It is found that smiling is contagious. So when you face a group with a smile, they also smile as a response and consequently everybody will be in good spirits. You can very well create and spread cheer everywhere with your smile. Your smile can make you seem courteous compassionate and confident; and hence you will naturally become more likable and acceptable. So, your habit of smiling can bring you business success easily. Smiling habit can definitely improve your relationships, and make others happier.
A Wayne State University study in 2010, found that smiling habit can enhance a person’s life span, even by seven years. People who smile frequently seem to age more slowly.
Jeanne Louise Calment who is regarded as the oldest human lived on earth (122 years and 164 days) as per documentation, once revealed the secret of her extraordinary longevity, when asked by media persons; ‘Always keep your smile, that’s how I explain my long life’.
As I stated earlier, smiling is regarded as the language of the soul. It opens the door to your heart and soul. Mother Theresa once pointed out; ‘Peace begins with a smile’. Smile brings you peace and happiness, love and compassion. Smiling habit can really transform your life. It is found that activation of our smiling muscles can trigger the happiness response. Smiling is surely a short cut to unleashing your inner joy. Smiling does real wonders for your physical, mental and spiritual health.
The famous best selling American author, Og Mandino aptly pointed out; ‘A smile remains the most inexpensive gift I can bestow on any one and yet its powers can vanquish kingdoms’. Always remember that you can use your smile to change the world, to make others happy and make your life more worthwhile.
The Japanese-American singer and peace activist, Yoko Ono gives us a valuable practical suggestions from her own experience; ‘Smile in the mirror. Do that every morning and you start to see a big difference in your life.’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. JOHN MUZHUTHETTU is a Human Resource Consultant, National Trainer, and Counselor. Formerly he was the Deputy Chief Engineer, Kerala State Electricity Board and is still working as an external faculty of HRD Programmes of KSEB. He is also a faculty of Department of Management Studies, Mar Augusthinose College, Ramapuram, under M.G.University, Kerala. He is the PG course co-ordinator of MHRM.
He is a columnist in several Magazines, like ‘Business Deepika’, ‘Creative Business’, ‘Donbosco’ etc. His articles have been published in many magazines and journals. His several speeches have been aired by All India Radio. His interviews on various subjects have been telecasted by Power Vision TV. He is the author of five best-selling books:
‘Stress-Manassasthra- Aathmeeya Pariharangel’. (Current Books, Thrissur) 4th Edition
Vijayiyude Vyakthithwam (Current Books, Thrissur)
Jeevitham Santhushtamakan, Nithya Yauvanam Nedan.(CSS, Thiruvalla)2ndEdition
Emotional Intelligence-Jeevithavijayathinu (CSS, Thiruvalla)
Vijayarahsyangal (Current Books, Thrissur)
As a trainer, he has conducted more than a thousand seminars and workshops for teachers, parents, students, executives and others, on several subjects like Stress Management, Time Management, Personality Development, Emotional Intelligence and Spiritual intelligence for Excellence, Communicative Skills, Assertiveness, Motivation, Study Skills, Effective Parenting, Counselling Skills etc. He is an external training faculty of Power Engineers Training and Research Centre of KSEB. He is an external faculty of IMG Cochin. He is also the Secretary of Upasana Cultural Centre, Thodupuzha.
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