About a Smile
“In ancient China, the Taoists taught that a constant inner smile to oneself, insured health, happiness and longevity. Why? Smiling to yourself is like basking in love: you become your own best friend. Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself.” Mantak Chia, Taoist Master
Some of my happiest moments have come from exchanging a smile with a stranger.
If one can experience a constant inner happiness, a feeling of permanently basking in love through a simple smile, imagine how it could affect the world around us.
In our busy modern lives it seems increasingly difficult to find things that make for daily happiness. We get caught up in the negatives and let them snowball into a bad day, week or month.
It’s time to turn to the little things and celebrate the simple moments which make us happy. In our modern yet stressful lifestyles, we have forgotten the importance and value of the little things around us.
A simple, genuine smile is a great place to start. Smiling is contagious. Try it out. Sit for a moment in a public place, and smile at a stranger. Not in a weird and slightly awkward way – offer up a natural and genuine happy smile. Next spread your smile to everyone you cross paths with.
It has been proven that it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown, so why not smile? Turning that frown upside down may change your whole day. It may even alter your life perception. When you smile your whole demeanour changes, making you appear more relaxed and confident. It signals to others you’re a pleasant and approachable person.
Live your days as they come. Wake up every morning and smile at the fact that you just woke up. Let yourself be happy.
What’s more, the act of smiling affects the way you feel. When experiencing a positive situation, neuronal signals travel from your brain to the brainstem, where the cranial muscle then carries the signal to the smiling muscles in your face. Once the smiling muscles contract, a positive feedback loop returns to the brain and reinforces the feeling of joy. This triggers a decrease in stress-induced hormones and negative mental health.
Our emotional health is tied closely with our physical health. Alongside a healthy diet, smiling is likely to make you live longer than those who frown. When your brain sends happy signals to your body it also boosts your immune system. Happy cells have a mood boosting effect turning your day around and strengthening your immune system.
I am writing this from South Korea, a foreign place to me, but one which I have called home for the past 6 months. While language is a barrier, smiling is universal. A smile means the same thing no matter where you’re from. It is one of the few things all men, women and children have in common.
So remember to share your beautiful smile with the world. You have the power to make the world a better place, even for just a moment.
Some easy things to add to your daily routine:
- smile and laugh a lot
- look for positive traits in people
- compliment yourself and others
- focus on feeling good
- reach out to people in need
- focus on the present
In the words of the late and wonderfully inspiring Mother Teresa: “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do”.
Maybe we will never know, but we might as well give it a try.
About the author: Marina Emms is an avid traveller, photographer and co-creator with ‘a million smiles’. Currently living in South Korea, where she is teaching English, Marina spends her spare time connecting with locals in what ever ways she can, as she goes about collecting inspiring stories and images for amillionsmilesmovie.com