Americans smile a lot. In the American culture, smiling indicates happiness, friendliness and sociability. We smile at strangers, when we meet people for the first time, when we are greeting beloved friends and family, as we are carrying on conversations, and even when we are uncomfortable. We smile a lot when we are feeling happy. If you meet someone who doesn’t seem to smile much, you probably tend to think of him or her as serious, sad, or unfriendly. When you are confronted with people who refuse to smile in situations where smiling is normally expected, you might even feel very uncomfortable and awkward.
There are plenty of reasons to smile, but if you aren’t comfortable with how your smile looks, it’s time to turn that frown upside-down. Your dentist and orthodontist can offer solutions for better oral health, tooth-whitening, tooth realignment with braces, veneers for broken or chipped teeth, or implants or denture products to replace missing teeth. When you don’t feel self-conscious about your mouth, you’ll be tempted to smile more often. Besides, smiling does the whole body good. How? Read on!
Reason #1. You Might Live Longer and be Happier
While correlation does not prove causation, studies that followed men and women who had the most sincere and natural smiles in their high school yearbooks seem to indicate that a natural tendency to smile frequently and naturally leads to longer lifespans—up to seven years longer than non-smilers or those who did not smile strongly.
One cause of that longer lifespan may be that natural smilers are happier and squeeze more joy out of life’s events. Happiness is known to be an immune-booster, so smilers might be helping themselves more easily beat or overcome illnesses that could, potentially, shorten lifespan.
Reason #2. You Will Improve Your Photogenicity
There is nothing wrong with practicing your smile. After all, people practice dancing or walking or speaking, so smile practice is not at all strange. Not only will you be able to hone the muscles that produce your best smile, but you’ll also end up feeling happy and relaxed in the process. Relaxed, natural smiles make for the best photos, so a little practice can make you even more photogenic than you already are.
Stand in front of a mirror that is large enough to reflect your entire face. Spread your mouth as wide as you can from side to side, keeping your lips closed. Now wrinkle your nose to engage your cheek muscles. Try again, parting your lips slightly to expose the tops of your teeth. Keep going, slowly opening your lips wider to expose more of your teeth. Note how your muscles move and feel, and also note which smiles look more natural and relaxed. Practice those smiles daily.
As a girl, famous model Tyra Banks studied photos of smiles and practiced honing her own versions of the smiles she most liked.
Reason #3. Improve Your Creativity
Studies have found that smiling—which creates greater happiness and reduces stress—also helps boost creativity far more than negative facial expressions. Frequent smilers tend to look for more out-of-the-box solutions to difficult problems, which gets the creative juices flowing. Whether you are an artist or a middle manager, smiling can help you come up with the next great idea or find the kinds of solutions that leave you feeling more satisfied and more like smiling.
Reason #4. Spread Happy Contagion
Smiles, like yawns, are contagious. If you’ve ever felt happier simply because a stranger flashed you a sincere grin and you responded with your own smile, you know how the happy contagion works. What’s more, you are more likely to pass along that little burst of happiness, as well, creating a chain reaction of smiling, which might be just the thing someone needed when he or she was feeling a little blue. Smiling is free, it’s easy, and it’s bound to make you (and others) feel better.