Health

The Health Benefits Of Smiling And Laughing

Smiling and laughter can lift our mood. It can also improve our well-being. A deep belly laugh and a genuine grin could even add years to your lifespan!

As the on-pitch, optimist-orphan, Annie Bennett-Warbucks, once sang, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” But smiling and laughing do much more than complete an outfit. They have proven health benefits. 

Smiling and laughter can lift our mood. It can also improve our well-being. A deep belly laugh and a genuine grin could even add years to your lifespan! 

So turn that frown upside down and keep reading. The health benefits of smiling and laughing are enough to keep even the nastiest grouch among us grinning! 

Smiles, Laughter, Your Brain, and Your Body 

Every time you laugh or smile, as long as it’s genuine, you release a flood of neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters allow molecules in our brain and body to talk. When we’re sad, depressed, scared, or happy, they communicate that feeling to all of our other parts. 

When we smile or laugh, the feel-good neurotransmitters come out in full force. Those include serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and other neuropeptides, all of which make us feel good. 

These molecules act as natural painkillers and antidepressants. Unlike man-made medications that often require a prescription, smiles and laughter have no nasty side effects. The worst that could happen is cheek fatigue and maybe a few happy tears! 

Smiles and laughter also lower cortisol, which in turn reduces stress. Reduced stress leads to lower blood pressure which reduces the risks of heart attack or stroke. It also leads to better oxygen intake and a more resilient immune system. 

In fact, after showing a 75-minute funny film to research participants, scientists at Japan’s Osaka University Graduate school found that natural killer cell activity increased by 26.5%. Natural killer cells are important to immune function, and the more active they are, the stronger our immune systems tend to be. 

If that weren’t enough, laughter increases EEG gamma wave frequency. An increased EEG gamma wave frequency synchronizes brain neurons. Synchronized brain neurons lead to better memory and cognitive processes. So, laughter and smiling can make you feel sharper. 

Smiles and Your Skin 

Every habitual expression leads to lines and wrinkles as we age. So, you might assume that it doesn’t matter if you smile or frown. However, it’s commonly thought that we perceive typical frown lines as less appealing than laughter lines. 

Frown lines usually form in your forehead, often between the eyes. It’s thought that they make people appear older and foul-tempered. Laughter lines, however, start around the outer edges of your eyes and mouth. They’ll still age your face because all wrinkles do that, but we supposedly perceive them as more youthful and joyous. 

There’s very little research to back those claims up, but research says smiles and laughter are seen as more attractive overall, wrinkles or not! 

A beaming grin may do more than make you seem attractive; it may also ensure you appear more successful and intelligent. Coming off as a brilliant winner could give you a huge leg-up, whether you’re looking for a job or a date! Plus, the increased self-esteem that naturally comes from finding success in love and life could help you avoid mental-health issues down the line.  

Laughing For Longer Life 

It’s hard to pin down the direct benefits of smiling and laughter. Many of the positive effects scientists observe could be attributed to close family and friendship bonds or various other circumstances. 

At the very least, though, research shows that happy people live longer. From that, we can infer smiling and laughter probably helps increase lifespan. After all, laughter helps reduce stress and enhances your immune system. That means you’re less likely to develop a life-threatening illness. 

Suffice it to say that your smile is more than a great fashion accessory. A genuine grin and a hearty laugh could lead to a better mood, a healthier body, and possibly a longer life.  

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