A smile is universally recognized in all cultures as an expression of happiness. Smiling causes your body to release endorphins and serotonin – the “feel good” hormones. Studies have shown that even faking a smile can elevate your mood. No wonder the next step on the path to happiness is to smile!

We are born with the innate ability and desire to smile. Even babies who are born blind will smile, proving that it is not a behavior learned through mimicking. Our brains intuitively respond to a smile. Researchers at Stanford have found that the amygdala, a region of the brain associated with emotional response, lights up when people are shown images of someone smiling.

Researchers have discovered that we use 18 different types of smile in social situations. We all have the ability to differentiate between a “felt” smile that comes from joy – known as a Duchenne smile – and a polite “social” smile. Regardless of the type of smile though, people who are smiling are perceived to be more sincere, competent and attractive than their non-smiling counterparts.

Everyone reacts to a smile. A Swedish study found that people respond in kind to the facial expression they are shown. When shown images of either frowning or smiling faces, subjects were easily able to reproduce the expression they were exposed to, but had a great deal of difficulty frowning when they were shown a smile.

So as you go through your week, keep in mind the following wise words that were written by Emperor Ming circa 5000 BCE:

“It costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive it, without impoverishing those who give it.
It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None are so rich they can get along without it and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.
It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a business, and is the countersign of friends.
It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and nature’s best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anyone until it is given away!
And if you should meet someone too tired or sick or depressed to give you a smile, make sure you leave them one of yours. For no one needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give.
The person with a smile is always welcome for it opens doors and hearts as if it was a key. “

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