I just watched Ron Gutman’s video on the hidden power of smiling. He references multiple studies showing how smiling reduces stress and increases the body’s level of mood-enhancing hormones.

Gutman also says studies indicate that smiling people are perceived as being more courteous and competent than those who do not smile, and that smilers have been shown to be more successful in relationships, academics and careers.

But here’s what really got my attention: Gutman said smiling can generate the same level of stimulation in the brain’s reward mechanism as eating 2,000 chocolate bars! Really?

Smiling is one of the most  basic forms of human communication. It’s hard to frown when people around you are smiling and laughing. Even babies in utero appear to smile in the images captured by sonograms.

And in addition to the social benefits, genuine smiling/laughing seems to have measurable health benefits in controlling blood pressure and promoting healing.

Smiling costs nothing, requires no preparation or knowledge or experience, demands no long-term commitment, and takes very little effort.

But, yes, I know–smiling causes wrinkles! Actually, frowning, eyebrow raising, and squinting cause more wrinkles than smiling. Smiling uses about seven facial muscles; frowning uses 54. This website goes on to advise: “Don’t stop smiling or laughing, however. A genuine smile causes crow’s feet around your eyes but the power of sincere joy against wrinkles may be stronger than the effects of not smiling…”

Of course, smiling all the time would not only be fake but also ridiculous. And we all know that there are different kinds of smiles, including evil ones. Yet a genuine smile that comes from a happy heart can bring many benefits.

Mother Teresa, Albanian-born missionary to India and founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, said:

Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing...I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.

Here are more of my favorite quotes about smiling:

A smile costs nothing but gives much.  It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give.  It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.  None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it.  Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.  Some people are too tired to give you a smile.  Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.  ~Author Unknown

If you would like to spoil the day for a grouch, give him a smile.  ~Author Unknown

Smile – sunshine is good for your teeth.  ~Author Unknown

The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.  ~William Shakespeare, Othello

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.  It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.  ~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Smile, even if it’s a sad smile, because sadder than a sad smile is the sadness of not knowing how to smile. ~Author Unknown

Keep smiling – it makes people wonder what you’ve been up to.  ~Author Unknown

Did you know June 15 is Power of a Smile Day?

Yes, there’s a holiday for everything. If you choose to focus on the positive things in life more than the negative, you’ll feel like smiling today…at least some of the time.