Have you ever noticed how a simple smile at a discouraged person can affect him, put a twinkle in his eyes and lift the corners of his mouth? I’ve found that here at St. Anne’s, the benefits of offering a smile can’t be easily overrated. As Christmas approaches, I want my gift to our residents to be a frequent smile. What a difference that can make, not only to them, but also to me.
You see, smiles have documented benefits, both for the giver and the recipient. Psychology Today informs us that smiling “activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress…” Smiling releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, which this same source refers to as “the feel good neurotransmitters.” This relaxes your body and can also lower your heart-rate and blood pressure. Also, serotonin is an anti-depressant/mood lifter that’s actually stimulated by many pharmaceutical anti-depressants. According to inspiyr.com, smiling actually strengthens your immune system, stimulating the production of white blood cells.
A smile can also serve as a natural pain reliever. According to another online source, “people who smile and laugh often are less likely to develop heart disease.” Also, according to this same source, smiling reduces stress, improves Mood, and increases productivity and longevity. Smiling can also increase your attentiveness and ability to multitask by fighting stress. Smiling also affects how you look to others and makes you more attractive. Isn’t a person with a smile on her face better looking than one with a frown?
In short, smiling can be a gift, both to yourself and to others. I’d like to close with a couple of quotes that I find worth mentioning. The first is a piece of advice I memorized years ago from an unknown source: “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.” Finally, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is noted for saying: “’Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
~Sr. Christina M. Neumann