World Smile Day

Surprising Health Benefits of Smiling

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By Earlexia Norwood, M.D.

Whether you call it a grin, smirk, beam or smile, there’s no denying the feel-good power of this happy facial expression. We are born with the ability to smile, yet as we age, we smile less often.

Research shows that children smile an average of 400 times per day, compared to the average happy adult who smiles 40-50 times per day and the typical adult who smiles only 20 times per day.

Why is smiling important? Smiling not only offers a mood boost but helps our bodies release cortisol and endorphins that provide numerous health benefits, including:

Furthermore, studies show that people who smile appear more likeable, courteous and competent. Smilers tend to be more productive at work and make more money.

Want to increase your daily smile average to take advantage of these benefits? The first step is easy, start your day with a smile.  Smiling is contagious, and when we smile we activate neurons in the brain that fire a synchronizing feature. You’ll notice that one smile will lead to additional smiles not just for you, but for those around you.

Try a Smile Challenge

World Smile Day is celebrated the first Friday of October. The holiday was created by Harvey Ball who developed the iconic yellow smiley image. This artist believed that you could improve the world one smile at a time.

To start flexing your smile muscles more often, try one of these fun smile challenges at home or work.

  • Post-It-Note Challenge – Gather 10-20 colorful post-it notes and write down people, places or things that make you smile. Stick the post-it-notes someplace you’ll see every morning to start your day.
  • Social Media Smile Collage – Create a smile collage and post it on social media – include your favorite smile, a picture smiling with friends and a picture of an activity or place that makes you smile.
  • Waiting Challenge – Catch yourself in a moment where you are waiting – whether it’s in traffic or at the grocery store. Stop and smile. See if others smile back.
  • 19 Challenge – Did you know that scientist have calculated that there are 19 types of smiles? How many do you have? Take pictures of your different smile and capture those of friends, colleagues and family members.

For more health and wellness advice, subscribe to the Henry Ford LiveWell blog today and get weekly emails of our latest articles.

Written By:

Earlexia Norwood, M.D.

Earlexia Norwood, M.D., is passionate about her patients living to their fullest potential. That is part of the reason she became a family medicine doctor. Her desire to help build healthy communities pushes her to educate people on wellness through events, speaking engagements and appearances on radio and television. In her multiple leadership positions at Henry Ford Health System, she also mentors other doctors and is an advocate for community health education. Throughout her career, Dr. Norwood has received a number of awards and acknowledgements, including HOUR Detroit’s Top Doc recognition multiple times. She is also involved in numerous professional associations, organizations and boards. If she wasn’t a doctor, Dr. Norwood would still want to help and serve the people as a lawyer or U.S. Senator.

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