Positive emotions like cheerfulness and enthusiasm enhance the effectiveness of your body’s defenses, whereas worries and absorbing yourself in negative thoughts diminish the efficiency of the immunocompetent cells. Since the mind-body interaction is that strong, we can create a big, positive impact with a little thing: a smile.
Small but hugely important
It’s the small things that have great power and influence on our lives. Look at the cell, for instance. A cell is the smallest unit of life but plays a major part in the body. Keeping our cells strong and healthy is crucial for your well-being. Similarly, a small smile triggers the release of dopamine which activates certain parts of our immune system. When the dopamine level rises, the number of natural killer cells and antibodies in the blood increase as well. Being happy is crucial for our body’s defense and our health. The whole cheerful bunch that a positive mindset consists of – from solution-oriented thinking to quiet joy to a fit of laughter – encourages our cells to work optimally and renew regularly.
Fake it till you make it
Laughing is the best medicine. This isn’t merely a popular proverb. It is true wisdom. A smile boosts the immune system. It’s that simple. Admittedly, we are not always in the mood to be all smiles but a smile works like magic: Smiling is so very powerful that it has a beneficial effect on our health even when we fake it. By lifting the corners of the mouth, we trick the brain into feeling happier and it reacts accordingly. The dopamine level increases and triggers genuine joy and ease. Isn’t this amazing? All we need to do is mechanically curve up the ends of the mouth and wait for the chemical reaction to kick in. Natur could not have made it any easier for us to make joy and health accessible.
Power source for humans and cells
Use every opportunity to take advantage of the incredible power of your smile. Grin at the sky no matter if the sun beams back at you or a blanket of clouds has the pleasure to receive your smile. Smile at a butterfly, the tree and yourself in the mirror, even on a bad hair day. Yep, humor is also essential. Smile at a stranger on the street or the human at the check-out where you buy your groceries. Being valued and seen makes a big difference. Imagine how it feels to have one of these days when nothing goes right and you feel small and insignificant, but then someone smiles at you. This can make your day. Plus, two immune systems are getting a boost: your own and the one of the generous smile giver.
Smile for no reason
There are so many chances to share a smile but never wait for a reason. Don’t depend on circumstances to cheer you up and conjure a smile on your face. Instead of getting all too comfy in a wait-and-see position, begin to take control of your mood and your health. Smile without a reason even and especially when you don’t feel like it. Activate the muscles that lift the corners of your mouth and hold this muscular contraction. Sometimes you’ll need to muster all your perseverance and yes, even stubbornness, to keep them up. As you know, we can trick the brain. It thinks you are happy and releases dopamine. With the dopamine level rising, the smile will become so much easier because this hormone lights up the mood and helps you access a new, more positive view on whatever situation you are in.
Smile for yourself
You have a powerful tool at hand or more precisely, in your beautiful human face. Each smile feeds and nurtures the cells of your immune system. Moreover, a friendly expression on the face can make someone’s day but no matter how others react to your smile, remember that you always smile for your own sake. You are smiling for your cells, your health, your mood. Utilize the powerful chain reaction that a smile is able to trigger. Knowing that a smile, even a pretend one, sparks joy and strengthens your immune system, makes it so much easier to resist the pull of gravity and the drag of the not so smooth days long enough until the smile works its magic. Lift the corners of your mouth. Yes, now.
Mental health & fitness trainer, linguist, podcast creator, founder of YUNA® and positive communications coach.