edcart-jan-1-2016If there is hope, there is life. That may as well be our mantra every start of the year when we make resolutions we hope will improve our lives. By the word resolution, there is the will to do. But in most cases, human nature prevails and we succumb to temptation. We end up making the same resolution year in and year out. The only resolution then is not to make a resolution. Avoidance of certain foods, especially meat, seems to be a number one resolution but the number one that is violated. Let us be realistic. Eat moderately.

One resolution that does not cost us anything with the least effort but which brings the most impact in making this world a better place is a smile. Science has found that even a fake smile, simply stretching the corners of your mouth to simulate a smile, stimulates the brain. There are many reliable sites on the web which can explain the science of this. Paul Ekman, a facial coding expert, explains that making two different smiles generate the same patterns of brain activity that correspond with a happy mood. Further limited experiments by Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman show that the action of the facial muscles can affect mood. In their experiment, they required subjects to hold chopsticks with their teeth in different ways that simulate smiling and neutral moods and then subjected them to stressful situations after which they were evaluated. They found that forced smilers had lower stress levels than those with neutral expressions. When some forced smilers were instructed to smile while biting the chopsticks, they showed even lower stress levels than those who did not. This only shows that intentionally exercising the facial muscles that draw the mouth’s angle upward and outward and those that control the closing of the eyelids around the eyes, as in a smile creates a feeling of well-being, a better, happier feeling. The happier the brain, the more we smile. The more we smile, the happier the brain. Thus, even faking a smile will bring you benefits.

But the smile is contagious. In a Swedish experiment where subjects were asked to frown when shown a smiling face, it took some conscious effort to suppress a smile and assume a frown. There is an unconscious automatic response area in your brain that automatically mirrors or imitates a smile. If you smile at someone, it is most likely they cannot help but smile back, or else, they will make a conscious effort to suppress it.

The health benefits of smiling had been the subject of both scientists and philosophers who agree that this natural simple act transforms both the person and those around them. The feel-good chemicals triggered by a smile relax the body, lower heart rate and blood pressure, act as a natural organic pain reliever and anti-depressant. There are negative no side-effects and you do not need a doctor’s prescription.

Surely everyone agrees that a smile makes a person more attractive too. No need for expensive time-consuming beauty treatments. Have you noticed how you are treated differently when you smile? According to neuro-psychological studies, your smiling face activates a part of the brain of the person seeing you to actually feel rewarded. The natural thing is, it also coaxes that person to return the favour. Is this not a good way to start a reconciliation? Greeting your unfriend with a fake smile can even help you!

Paste that smile until it hurts. Vow to look at people straight into their eyes when you flash those pearly whites. Make this world a better place with a SMILE. Smile and the whole world smiles at you! Smiley Happy New Year to everyone!


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