By: Helen Jane Hearn
No one can deny that smiling more is a good thing. It’s an outward expression of inner happiness. Smiling helps us get along better in groups and even has additional psychological benefits. Happy memories, excited anticipation, and feelings of love and caring can elicit the biggest smiles — but how to get more of these in your life? I’ve put together some smiling inspiration for more grins all year long.
1. Smiling Makes Us Happier
Researchers have found just the act of smiling can trigger a happier mood. Robert Zajonc, a respected and renowned social psychologist, published a study in 1989 looking at psychological states before and after smiling. Subjects scored themselves happier after smiling by an overwhelming amount. Even better, subjects who saw themselves smile in a mirror had an even bigger mood boost.
Try using driving time to practice smiles. After parking and before getting out of your car, grin at yourself in the mirror — it’ll give you that mood boost before taking on the day.
2. Smile Reminders
When caught in a persistent bad mood, I have three go-to happy thoughts that help to return me to a happy medium. The trick is remembering to remember them.
One of those happy thoughts is about my daughters. I keep a laminated photo of them in my wallet that makes me smile whenever I stumble across it, which is usually when I’m getting spare change. Another is a memory of our honeymoon: a shell on my keychain.
It takes little time to list out some of your happy memories and choose your top few. Plant little reminders around your space to bring these to the forefront of every day.
3. Ripple Effect
Smiling helps make other people feel better, too. Although research is still in a preliminary state, scientists are finding being around people who are smiling has a ripple effect, making everyone feel better.
Thinking of my own mood as positive energy that can improve other people’s moods is a powerful tool for a happier life.
4. Smile Confidence
When you feel confident in your smile, you’re likely to smile more often. How do you do that? Going out and finding the perfect lip color, of course. When you’re confident your grin looks good, there’s nothing stopping you from giving smiles throughout the day.
5. Smile Maintenance
Consistent flossing, brushing and twice-a-year dental visits have a big impact on the quality of my smile. Spending the time to take care of my breath and teeth brings the confidence to smile more often.
Finding reasons to smile helps me to stay grinning most days of the week — and it’s a small thing with big results. What makes you smile?
Helen has written about Internet culture and home entertaining at her eponymous site Helen Jane since 1998. Napa Valley-based, she is a certified specialist of wine and founder of Cheesewhizzes, a nationwide cheese-tasting club. She also captains her bocce team, Joanie Loves Bocce.