The Power of a Smile

I came across this post on Forbes recently and thought it was well worth sharing. It’s written by Ron Gutman and is taken from his fascinating TED talk (To view the talk, click here.)

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!

A New Kind of Christianity and Grief

Brian McLaren just posted this comment about his book A New Kind of Christianity by a reader whose sentiments I share. What many people don’t understand is that when a person speaks negatively of organised religion, it isn’t necessarily because they have turned their back on it or plan to in the near future. It is quite possible that they are going through a grieving process.

Here’s part of Brian’s post:

Your book has also brought out many other emotions as well… fear, doubt, and at times, a profound grief. I’m not sure why or where this grief is coming from. Is it the loss of my childhood faith I am feeling? Is it a fear that God is unknowable? Is it the loss of one faith before another is formed to replace it? Have you, or any other individuals you have encountered, found this deep grief to be part of the faith-growing journey as well? Any advice for a fellow searcher would be valuable.

You can read the rest of the comment and Brian’s response here.