Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.
4th February 2021
Monday 8th February
‘ Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love’. ( Mother Theresa)
One of the most memorable songs of my childhood was ‘Smile’ sung by Nat King Cole. Here are the lyrics of the first verse;
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
Of course it’s easy to smile when we are happy and things are going our way. It’s the most natural thing in the world . But the song suggests we should smile through the sad and difficult times too. And interestingly scientific research suggests that the physical act of smiling can change the way we feel, so that we may indeed ‘see the sun come shining through’.
In 1988, Fritz Strack and colleagues published one of the most wonderful studies in psychology. They asked volunteers how funny they thought some cartoons were. While looking at the cartoons, some of the participants held a pencil between their teeth without it touching their lips, while some others held a pencil in their lips without allowing it to touch their teeth. The volunteers with a pencil between their lips thought the cartoons were less funny than did volunteers holding a pencil in their hands. Those with a pencil between their teeth thought they were funniest. Simply contracting the same muscles as when we’re amused and smiling changes how we perceive things.
So it seems therefore that smiling or not smiling may alter our perceptions, although I am aware there have been some questions over this particular study. Nevertheless more recent research has concluded that ‘ smiling during brief periods of stress may help reduce the body’s stress response, regardless of whether the person actually feels happy or not.”
According to Mark Stibich a consultant at Columbia University, smiling:
- Makes you attractive to others. There is an automatic attraction to people who smile.
- Changes your mood. If you try, even when it’s difficult, to smile when you are not feeling good, there is a chance it might improve the way you are feeling.
- Is contagious. Others will want to be with you. You will be helping others feel good.
- Relieves stress. Stress does express itself right in our faces. When we smile, it can help us look better, less tired, and less worn down.
- Boosts the immune system. Smiling can actually stimulate your immune response by helping you relax.
- Lowers blood pressure. When you smile, there is evidence that your blood pressure can decrease.
- Releases endorphins and serotonin. Research has reported that smiling releases endorphins, which are natural pain relievers, along with serotonin, which is also associated with feel-good properties.
Therefore…when you smile at someone else and they smile a real smile in return, you are helping to create physiological changes in their bodies that may benefit them as well as yourself. If you are feeling good, let others know it. It will help you, and help others around you and may as Mother Theresa says, be ‘the beginning of love’ in the broadest sense.
And if you are not feeling good, well get a pencil and hold it between your teeth….it’s worth a try! ?