Happiness has a lot of triggers and most of them are subjective. For me it’s when I’m feeling in the flow, things are falling into place easily. I’m connecting with the right person at the right time or I find just the information I was looking for while writing.
That type of happiness, when I’m truly aligned, arises from within me. When I’m feeling this way, in the flow or what psychologists call self-referral.
Of course I get caught up in the “other” kind of happiness, you know, the rocket booster – sugar high type that pumps up the ego and is “created” by something, someone or some event that I’ve connected too. This “object-referral” type of happiness is alright as long as you are conscious of what it is and where it came from and that your good with the fact that it’s going to fade like last year’s tee shirts.
What do you do if you’re just not connecting with your inner guru and there’s nothing on the immediate horizon that looks promising as an ego booster?
Well, the research suggests that you can, and should, smile your way to happiness.
Recent studies show that smiling, especially genuine smiling – smiling that engages facial muscles, may reduce your heart rate (and as a result stress).
Smiling releases endorphins, those happiness chemicals that course through our body – mind, lighting up our inner guru’s happy place and when we take the time to genuinely smile at another person, our endorphins spin through our brains creating tiny ripples of happiness.
Ron Gutman explains the process brilliantly in this TED talk:
I also discovered this article by Laura Cabonell on, “Why smiling is the key to happiness and success.” I wanted to share some of her ways you can smile your way to happiness:
Smiles relax and comfort people
When I teach Spanish to beginners, I am well aware that these professionals who might be CEO’s, doctors or from any other high standing professional background, feel extremely shy, self-conscious and tense learning something new. The only way to break them of this and make them feel at home and at ease is to welcome them with a smile and a few warm laughs…
How smiling is the key to happiness
Psychology Today mentions how your brain pays attention to your emotions and your body, adding that, while it might be hard to control the former, it is actually pretty easy to control the muscles in your body. That is to say, you can actually trick your brain into thinking you are happy by wearing a big smile and the result will be a change in how you feel.
If smiles don’t come naturally to you, you might want to exercise it, but it has to be an honest smile with all your facial muscles working together. Your eyes must smile too, unless, of course, you’ve fallen victim to Botox injections, in which case just do the best you can!
Speaking of Botox, another study mentioned in the Scientific American, showed that depressed people who received frown-inhibiting Botox injections reported feeling happier months later. This result had nothing to do with them feeling younger or more attractive thanks to the cosmetic procedure, it had to do with their emotive state responding to their physical expression (lacking a frown).
This is just another example of the power of facial expressions effectively changing your mood. And while we don’t recommend Botox to make your frown lines disappear as a key to happiness, making an effort to reduce the number of frowns in your day couldn’t hurt! Continue reading here…
So you can see that it pays to smile as often as you can. Whether you smile at a friend or a stranger, whether you smile at your lover or to yourself (the most powerful smile of all because you amplify your inner joy) you will if you radiate happiness and spread joy.
It does take some effort to smile, to connect with the world, but once you smile, the rewards are boundless. Consider that first smile of the day your first and most important workout. Your body, mind and especially your spirit will be the better for it.
In the end the truth is you can genuinely smile your way to happiness.