I’ve been writing about heavy topics lately and want to lighten it up a little bit for this blog. Today’s topic? Smiling.

In my research for this blog, I came across a post on the Psychology Today website dated June 25, 2012, by guest blogger Sarah Stevenson*. It was titled There’s Magic in Your Smile, How smiling affects your brain. I really like the way Sarah describes how smiling affects the brain and I’d like to share an excerpt from her post…

How Smiling Affects Your Brain

Each time you smile, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness.

For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress. Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, or excited. The feel-good neurotransmitters — dopamine, endorphins and serotonin — are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well. This not only relaxes your body, but it can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

The endorphins also act as a natural pain reliever — 100-percent organic and without the potential negative side effects of synthetic concoctions.

Finally, the serotonin release brought on by your smile serves as an anti-depressant/mood lifter —and you don’t need a prescription from your doctor.

How Smiling Affects Those Around You

Did you know that your smile is actually contagious? The part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression of smiling when happy or mimicking another’s smile resides in the cingulate cortex, an unconscious automatic response area. Looking at the bigger picture, each time you smile at a person, their brain coaxes them to return the favor. You are creating a symbiotic relationship that allows both of you to release feel-good chemicals in your brain, activate reward centers, make you both more attractive, and increase the chances of you both living longer, healthier lives.

I wrote the first version of the following poem/song titled “Smile-away” in the 1989/90 timeframe. Recently, I got it out and re-worked it until it became the version you see below.

I have a challenge for you. Try to get through this piece with a frown on your face. I’ll bet by the time you’ve said smile-away four times you will be smiling, just from reading the words…and if so, go with it. Smiling, as described in this blog, is not such a bad thing after all!

Smile-Away

Smile away, when you’re feeling blue.
Smile away, it’s getting better for you.
When times get tough and life gets you down
you can smile away, cuz it will soon turn around.

Smile away, when your blue skies turn gray.
Smile away, everything will be okay.
When times get tough and life gets you down
you can smile away, cuz it will soon turn around.

Smile away the tears of today
Smile away, no matter what they say
When you smile away soon you will see
Your smile will always set you free

Smile away, girl don’t you cry.
Smile away, and never ask why.
Good times and bad both come and they go,
Remember, from the rain comes a brilliant rainbow.

Smile away, each and every day
Smile away, no matter what they say
When you smile away soon you will see
Your smile will always set you free

Smile away. when you’re feeling blue.
Smile away, it’s getting better for you.
When you smile away soon you will see
Your smile will always set you free, set you free, set you free…

—–

Now keep smiling.

*Sarah Stevenson, a.k.a., The Tini Yogini, is a certified yoga instructor in Southern California. She has a degree in Behavioral Psychology and teaches not only yoga classes, but also life-affirming workshops

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