Mother Theresa once said, “Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” The outward expression of joy… is a smile. A simple act, a profound effect. Read on to discover 5 Ways a Smile Can Change the World.
But first… a story.
It was a Sunday morning, 8 days ago.
And it was sunny!
A rare occurrence this Seattle winter.
Known for our rain, it hasn’t disappointed this year.
Buckets and buckets of drenching precipitation now yielding a promise of lushness to come.
We were out the door early, for a change. Early enough to grab a latte on the way to church.
Relishing in the warm sun streaming through the window, my latte all but forgotten, I was struck by the emerging green beauty, a promise of spring, of good days to come.
And then I saw him.
A Korean man of indeterminate years, but old. Had seen many springs.
Few were out on that Sunday morning, 8 days ago. But he was.
His head was bowed, his back hunched. Struggling to plant his walking stick with each step up a very long and very steep hill.
A hill I’ve never, and probably will never attempt to climb.
His shoes were cumbersome, his jacket zipped against the still brisk air.
The traffic light was long.
Still red by the time he reached the top of that enduring climb.
And then the most wonderful thing happened.
A brilliant smile that lit up his entire countenance. A smile that lit up mine. A smile I felt to the tip of my toes.
A deep breath, a glance at the bluest sky we’ve seen in months, smile intact, he shuffled across the street and continued his journey.
I don’t know his name… and he doesn’t know mine. He never glanced my way.
But his joy seeped into my soul and lightened up my world.
Living in a small(ish) international community outside a large city, it’s common for our neighbors to have their parents living with them during parts of the year.
I’d never seen this man before… and most likely won’t again.
But he has stayed with me, for the last 8 days. His smile brightening my day that sunny Sunday morning.
Someone once said, “Use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.”
And now, I hope, the story of his smile, in some small way, has also touched your life.
Life can get rocky sometimes, unplanned detours can waylay even the best-laid plans. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and misery of our world.
Can something as simple as a smile change anything?
Yes. It can change the world.
Your smile can change the world.
And in doing so, as Charlie Chaplin once said,
“You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.”
Bless those around you today, and smile!
5 Ways a Smile Can Change the World
Can a smile change the world?
Yes. And it begins with you. People change the world.
Here’s what smiling does for you.
1. Relieves Stress
Each time you smile, you activate and release feel-good neurotransmitters that relax your body, lowers stress, and can even lower heart rate and blood pressure. These neurotransmitters; dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, are then released into your body. The endorphins act as a natural pain reliever, and the serotonin lifts your mood.
2. Changes Perceptions
Smiles are not only beautiful, they create joy. Studies show the act of smiling changes the way we perceive the world. “Pretend you are happy, and you will feel happy, pretend that you are angry, and you will feel angry,” concludes one study. Feelings of joy are a consequence of behavior, they say. “We feel happy because we smile.”
And when our perception changes, our responses to others also change.
“Psychologists at the University of Sussex in England reported that when we smile, we see other people’s frowns as less severe, and that when we frown we see their smiling faces as less happy,” reports New York Magazine.
3. Creates Influencers
When you smile, people treat you differently. You’re viewed as attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere.
A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing an attractive smiling face makes the recipient of that smile feel rewarded.
Researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, rated smiles and attractiveness. Predictably, they found people were attracted to others who made eye contact and smiled more than those who did not.
When you smile, you become an influencer. Did you know that your smile is actually contagious?
“In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of several emotions: joy, anger, fear and surprise. When the picture of someone smiling was presented, the researchers asked the subjects to frown. Instead, they found that the facial expressions went directly to imitation of what subjects saw. It took conscious effort to turn that smile upside down. So if you’re smiling at someone, it’s likely they can’t help but smile back,” reports Psychology Today.
4. Contributes to Happiness
“Happiness is about being able to make the most of the good times – but also to cope effectively with the inevitable bad times,” says Mark Williamson for The Guardian.
• Warwick University found those who were influenced to feel happy (see #3 above) were 11% more productive than their peers.
• Warton Business School found companies with “happy” employees outperformed others on the stock market.
• Young adults who are happy earn more money than peers.
• Doctors who are happy make faster and more accurate diagnoses.
• Children who are happy perform better academically and are more creative.
5. Happiness is Contagious
Smiling leads to happiness. And happiness, studies show, increases your productivity, which in turn, creates a positive contribution to society.
Studies show one who is happy is more likely to vote, volunteer, participate in community, and respect law and order.
“There is even evidence that happiness is contagious, so that happier people help others around them to become happier too. An extensive study in the British Medical Journal followed people over 20 years and found that their happiness affected others in their networks across ‘three degrees of separation’. In other words, how happy we are has a measurable impact on the mood of our friend’s friend’s friend,” says Williamson.
Mother Theresa said, “Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”
It all begins with a smile.