Most of the time, anything “contagious” is considered to be negative and associated with an illness or virus. But what if a “contagion” could actually help you live longer? What if it had the power to not only make you feel better, but help everyone around you feel good, too? What if every person had it at their immediate disposal at any given moment, and it was free? We’d all want to “catch” and “spread” it, right?
Well, the good news is that one contagion of the sort already exists: smiling. Even better, they’re free, readily available and actually have health benefits. Think about the last time you were on the receiving end of a genuine smile. You felt a little rush of happiness and found yourself smiling back, didn’t you? It’s not surprising. Smiling releases endorphins — powerhouse chemicals that can help boost your mood, relieve stress and calm your body — such a simple behavior with such a dramatic effect.
Smiles Are as Good as Chocolate
No one argues with the power of chocolate; it’s an instant mood-lifter and a tasty snack. One study found that just one smile can give you the immediate happiness of eating 2,000 bars of chocolate — without the stomachache.
Fake Smiles Can Become Real Ones
Research has shown that even forcing a smile or simply holding the facial expression can release those feel-good endorphins in your brain. When you’re feeling down, the first step to picking yourself up again might just be putting a smile on your face (even if you don’t exactly feel like it).
Your Smile Reflects Your Life
One study found a correlation between the intensity of individuals’ smiles and their life satisfaction and longevity. It suggests that your attitude and outlook can have a real, measurable impact on your length and quality of life.
What more reason do you need to sneak in a few extra smiles today? Go start spreading the joy (and health boost) with those around you.