My youngest sister sent me a gift recently. It was a book called Cave in the Snow: Tenzin Palmo’s Quest for Enlightenment by Vicki Mackenzie. Gal, my husband, started reading it before me and I am reading it now 20-30 pages behind him. Every time he shared a suggestion from the book with me, I tried it. Tenzin Palmo suggested to the readers to find peace and happiness in different ways. Since I am in the happiness business, I have dedicated my life to finding techniques to increase happiness, methods to teach these techniques and ways to help others find their own techniques, so I welcomed her suggestions.
One of her simple methods was to smile. You smile widely (for no reason) and keep smiling through 3 deep breaths. Repeat this 6 times a day. That’s it. 3 breaths, 6 times a day, smiling. To start, you can put a pencil between your teeth, and this will hold your mouth in a smiling position.
It took exactly 1 day to feel a difference. The second day was even better, the third day was even better. If you are a mindful person and good at rating your moods, you will notice small changes every day. After a week, the improvement stopped and my happiness state was high and uplifted.
Try it. What have you got to lose (except some anger, sadness and fear)?
Smiling opens a door to happiness
There is a scientific reason for why her method worked. As soon as I smiled, my brain connected me to happy memories. Some memories were clear and others were fuzzy, but I still felt them. It was as if I could open a door to happiness with my smile.
Smiling is a reaction to pleasant feelings. It can be an expression of happiness and joy, hope, success and comfort. When we smile, our body produces Oxytocin, called “the happy hormone” or “the love hormone”, which is also produced by touch. Smiling also produces endorphins, which make us feel relaxed and happy.
If we want to master the science of happiness, we must understand this connection. When we are happy, our body produces happy chemicals and we can turn them on with a thought, like a pleasant memory, or an action, like smiling or exercising.
When we smile, we use 5 to 53 muscles in the forehead, nose, nostrils, eyelids, cheeks, lower lip, upper lip (separate), neck and jaw. Although when we fake a smile, we don’t work all those muscles and it looks like a Botox smile, you will notice after 2-3 attempts that your feeling changes and your brain opens the door that produces the “happy hormones” and connects you to the happy thoughts.
Facts about smiling from research
- Smiling boosts your immune system
- Smiling every day adds an average of 7 years to our life
- When you smile, you can manage pain better
- When you smile, your body releases neuoropeptides that balance your blood pressure and lower anxiety
- People who smile more are more successful in life
- Smiles make people seem more attractive and get them better promotions at work – 12% more than people who don’t smile much
- Women smile more than men do
- We smile much less at work than we do at home and this is why many people are not happy at work
- Smiles are attractive. 71% of women and 58% of man say it is an important factor in choosing a partner
- When you smile, it is easier to remember you. Smiling people are 24% more memorable
- Smiling is better than make up. Research discovered that 69% of people find women more attractive when they smile than when they wear makeup. Of course, smiling is also cheaper, hassle free, easy to bring with you anywhere and produces an immediate effect
- Children smile 400 times a day on average. Adults average only 20 smiles, and happy adults smile 45 times. Learn from children. In Tenzin Palmo’s suggestion, it is 3 breaths times 6, which brings it to 18 breaths. Not a huge effort to be happy, is it?
- Smiles are contagious. Half of the people who see a smile respond with a smile. Spread this happiness around you!
- 72% of people believe that people who smile are more successful and more confident. If you smile, they will think that of you
- 86% of people claim it is easier for them to have a conversation when they are smiling
- Smiling changes the tone of our voice. Even smiles over the phone can give the listener the same feeling as if you were smiling right next to them
- Researchers found that interaction between two smiling people is better regardless of the topic
- Listening to music you love can make you smile. Listen to music you love!
So try it for 1 week. Put a reminder in your phone or on your computer. Smile when you are in the car. Smile when you get up in the morning. Smile in the shower. Smile when you brush your teeth. 6 times a day, 3 breaths. Simple!