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Nella Coiro

Smiles

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." —Thich Nhat Hanh

Do you know that when you smile, your brain releases particular neurotransmitters, which are natural stress reducers? These include serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain relievers, while serotonin acts as a natural antidepressant. 

It’s interesting to note that if we smile at someone, not only are these neurotransmitters released within our own brains, but the people that we are smiling at also have the same chemicals being released in their brains. (Now, how cool is that?)

Some research suggests that we can actually lower our heart rate by smiling. Furthermore, if you fake it till you make it, by feigning a smile, it will have the same effect.

Besides this, we all know that smiles can be infectious. If someone smiles at you, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to impulsively return that smile. It’s also interesting to note that when someone smiles, it can really warm our hearts. 

Smiling can make us appear younger. When we smile, our wrinkles are less noticeable, giving us a more youthful appearance. This fact alone is worth flashing those pearly whites!

Sometimes, when I’m not feeling well, despite my best efforts, my mood can easily become irritable and acrimonious. Trust me, when I find myself falling down this rabbit hole. I don’t even want to be in my own company for more than five seconds. A couple of times while in this frame of mind,  a simple smile was instrumental in helping the crankiness to melt away. And it doesn’t have to be from someone I know. The smile could be from a complete stranger. The source of the smile is irrelevant. There is just something very powerful and healing contained in this simple gesture.

Cortisol is another brain chemical, that is classified as a stress hormone. When we experience stress and anxiety, this chemical is automatically released. However… This is fascinating when the feel-good endorphins are being released, thenthis prevents the cortisol song from being released. Interesting? I thought so!

The cortisol hormone actually increases our uncomfortable, negative, cranky feelings.  Therefore, by lowering the cortisol levels, we can also decrease of the negative feelings.

By now you might  be wondering where I’m going with this topic. Also me to explain. Since early in 2020 nearly everyone on the glow is wearing a mask to contain the outbreak of the pandemic. We wear facial masks to protect ourselves and others, , and and I am 100% in favor of this. In fact, I believe that we have a moral obligation to do so.

In lieu of this new normal, however, every potential “smile” is being obscured by a mask. Are you wondering if this has any impact upon each of us?  If so, is there any way to work around it? I have some ideas. 

Since we can’t show our pearly whites at the moment, we can still say the words that could bring a smile to someone’s face. 

Just the simple tone of your voice can share the same sense of warmth and compassion equivalent to a big, happy grin!

For now, let’s learn to improvise. Smile with your heart. Smile with your energy. Smile with your love. Speak words of compassion that will bring a smile to the other person’s face. We just need to get a little creative, and making our smiles a little bit differently right now.   

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