I thought that I might spend the week talking about those little things we can do that supposedly benefit ourselves and others for many reasons - a smile, a hug, a kind word, giving to another, and of having faith.
What really happens when we smile and does it have benefit for ourselves and others? There are two types of smiles - the genuine, or Duchenne, smile (Google it!) and the forced smile.
Science tells us that the immediate benefits of smiling include the release of 'feel good' chemicals in our brain such as neuropeptides to reduce stress, endorphins which relieve pain, serotonin to help you feel and sleep better, and dopamine which makes you feel REALLY good. Early indications are that smiling may also change the temperature of blood to the brain, although work is still needed on this hypothesis.
Psychology tells us that your facial expression can alter your mood. Smiling can bring back happy memories, can reduce pain, increase memory, make you view things in a positive way, and reduces stress levels through a decreased heart rate.
Research shows us that smiling makes you look better, appear more friendly and approachable, makes those around you feel better and is infectious to others. It is also shown to be a great way to de-escalate tense situations if used appropriately.
There are far more benefits from a genuine smile than there are from a forced smile however the mantra of 'fake it until you make it' is one which has strong ties to a forced smile. If you force a smile long enough, you WILL feel better.
There it is, you cannot argue with science, psychology and research. If you do want to argue with it, smile and see if you still want to after an hour or so.