The Hidden Power of Smiling

Between everyday stresses, busy schedules, and the many responsibilities you undoubtedly have on your plate, it can be easy to get into a rut of negative thoughts and self-defeating behavior.

What you might not know is that you have a secret tool that can help clear your mind and chase away bad feelings. It’s right under your nose. That’s right! Show off those pearly whites.

Your smile has been proven to be a powerful way to facilitate positive life changes, strengthen your body, and achieve better results on the job.

Fake it ‘Til You Make It

If you’re going through a tough time, smiling might be the last thing you feel like doing. But there are benefits to doing it anyway, even if your heart isn’t in it.

A study that involved having participants “smile” without realizing it, using an exercise that involved holding chopsticks in their mouths, and then testing their stress levels found that just the physical act of having your face in the position of a smile causes stress levels to drop.

Appearing confident and friendly, even when you’re not, makes you appear more trustworthy and approachable meaning that others will treat you better when you’ve got a smile on your face. A smile can also make you seem more attractive to other people, which is something to consider if you’re looking for dates.

Not only that, smiling is contagious. Mirror neurons are a part of your brain that helps you empathize with others. When you see someone smile, the mirror neurons in your brain fire and cause you to experience the same feelings and emotions as when you’re smiling yourself, and trigger you to repeat the action on your own.

It’s harder to stay down when everyone around you is expressing positivity. Why not be the one that gets the ball rolling?

Health Benefits

Your physical body can also benefit from smiling.

When you smile and think positive thoughts, your brain rewards your body with feel-good chemicals, like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. With these chemicals released, your body begins to relax.

Your blood pressure lowers, reducing your risk of heart attack, stroke, and poor circulation. You also reduce your risk of strokes, which affect 800,000 people each year and are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.

Smiling has also been shown to reduce cellular tension. When you smile, it helps your cells release their rigidness, which helps your body find and repair damage.

Better Attitude, Better Work

You probably don’t need to be told that keeping a positive attitude can help you on the job, but a reminder never hurts.

Not only can you reap social benefits from being positive in your workplace, smiling and positive thinking can make you a more effective and productive employee. And when you’re more productive, you’re probably going to have a better time at work. Managers notice good attitudes, and your peers will as well, and you will be helping to build a positive workplace culture!

Positive thought can also make you a better problem solver. Dopamine, released when you smile, is tied to processes in the brain that handle decision-making, creative thought, and learning.

A smile can also help you build your skill set. Friendly, approachable people are more likely to engage with others and gain new insights from them. Interacting with a wide variety of personality types is tied to being a more diverse and valuable employee, and you’re much more likely to make new friends if you look like you want to meet them.

How to Boost Your Mood

So what can you do to help put a smile on your face? Reducing anxiety and getting yourself into a positive mindset are great first steps.

Try some of the following activities to help ease some of your stress and generate good thoughts:

  1. Write it down. Studies show that taking some time to write down what is bothering you really can help you feel better about your issues.
  1. Meditate. Just a few minutes each day can help ease your mind.
  2. Exercise. A regular routine is tied to better health and less stress.
  3. Talk about it. Speak with someone about what’s bothering you, or just take the time to make a human connection.

A good smile has the power to turn a bad day around. Carrying yourself in a way that expresses positivity will, in turn, help brighten the days of those around you. Smiles can help you actually improve your mood, heal your body, and benefit you in your career. Who knew something that seems so small could make such big changes? Try it out — the best part is that they’re free!


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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