Recently I made an interesting discovery while running – a simple act that made a dramatic difference and helped carry me through the most challenging segments of long distance runs: smiling. This inspired me to embark on a journey that took me through neuroscience, anthropology, sociality and psychology to uncover the untapped powers of the smile.
I started my exploratory journey in California, with an intriguing UC Berkeley 30-year longitudinal study that examined the smiles of students in an old yearbook, and measured their well-being and success throughout their lives. By measuring the smiles in the photographs the researchers were able to predict: how fulfilling and long lasting their marriages would be, how highly they would score on standardized tests of well-being and general happiness, and how inspiring they would be to others. The widest smilers consistently ranked highest in all of the above.
Even more surprising was a 2010 Wayne State University research project that examined the baseball cards photos of Major League players in 1952. The study found that the span of a player’s smile could actually predict the span of his life! Players who didn’t smile in their pictures lived an average of only 72.9 years, while players with beaming smiles lived an average of 79.9 years.. . .
. . . British researchers found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.The same study found that smiling is as stimulating as receiving up to 16,000 pounds Sterling in cash.That’s like 25 grand a smile.It’s not bad.And think about it this way:25,000 times 400 –quite a few kids out there feel like Mark Zuckerberg every day. (Read the full post here.)
More evidence that, “A cheerful heart is like good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). Better get my smiling muscles busy!