Everyone has heard the old proverb “A smile is the universal language of kindness.” The idea of making society’s happiness a governmental responsibility is far from universal, however, it does appear to be gaining momentum. The UAE, which has created the world’s first happiness council, was ranked 24th globally, out of 150 countries, according to the World Happiness Report 2022 produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative launched by the United Nations in 2012.
There are lots of little things that have the power to improve our day – someone opening the door for you, holding the elevator, an unexpected compliment, or coming home and finding out your partner did the laundry for you. These tokens of appreciation make us feel cared for and give us gratitude towards one another. It requires someone else to think about us and go out of their way and take an action in a way that benefits us with less incentive for the individual. So when we receive these acts of kindness it is unexpected and it makes us feel like something different. A simple yet effective way of doing this in our everyday lives is smiling. With this in mind, the more confident we are in our smile, the more likely we are to do it – and it turns out there are several benefits for the individual as well as others.
On an individual level, smiling has been linked to reduced stress, increased immune function and an overall longer lifespan. When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins come into play too. Endorphins act as a mild pain reliever, whereas serotonin is an antidepressant. Studies even suggest that smiling can help us recover faster from stress and reduce our heart rate. In fact, even faking a smile might even be worth your while and see where it gets you. There’s been some evidence that forcing a smile can still bring you a boost in your mood and happiness level. Smiling can also boost your overall health by helping your immune system function more effectively. It is thought that when you smile, immune function improves because you are more relaxed. One 2010 study found that genuine, intense smiling is associated with longer life.
It turns out that the benefits of smiling aren’t just limited to yourself — it can also affect those around you. We’ve already talked about how our brains react when we smile, but we’re also rewarded when we see someone else smile. The reward centre of our brain is activated and it makes us feel a little better.
Besides the feel-good benefits, smiling can actually increase job performance. One study linked decision-making, processing and learning to the release of dopamine triggered by happiness, so smiling can also make you a more creative and efficient worker. All this to say, smiling is a net positive action and benefits everyone’s well-being in and out of the workplace.
Having a well-aligned smile gives the confidence to smile in more situations. It touches on medicine, health, and social sciences.
This article has been contributed by Qais Sabri, Co-founder and CEO of Eon Dental.
Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in The Brew Opinion – our opinion section – are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheBrew.ae, the company, or any of its members