Are We Too Dumb To Smile?

At least David Shrigley is having a blast.

How do you feel when someone smile at you or when you hear someone laughing? 

Good? Yes? 

Do you ever get this instant sensation of happiness? Yes?  I do.

Think about it, how often do you smile? How many times a day do you smile to a stranger or to the people you surround yourself with at work? How about your friends? Family? And most important, to yourself, either in the mirror or when you take a selfie? 
Can you even recall when the last time was and what made it happen?

Simply seeing someone smiling a delight arise within me, not only for a few seconds but for minutes. Seeing people smile or laugh from afar or even just by watching someone on a screen elevates my level of joy and fills my face with a grin immediately. It’s the best thing I know. Smiling feels like a shot of love entering my blood vessels going straight to my brain. If I get a smile from a stranger I can think about that smile until I fall asleep that night.

Science confirms the reason of our awe when smiling with a study showing that 1 smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2000 bars of chocolate. The same study found that smiling is as stimulating as receiving up to 16 000 pounds in cash. 25K a smile. Well, that’s insane. 

And it get me thinking, when this is the effect smiling has upon us, how come I do not see smiles more frequently throughout a day? 

Research shows that kids laugh and smile 300 times or more a day. But statistics shows that the average adult only smile 20 times. Now I understand why the most of us feel happier when around kids. Even I who loves smiling may find myself smiling only between 5-40 times a day. Thats hilarious. Embarrassing. Really.

How come we don't smile more often when we are aware of the fact that it has a huge effect on us and the people around us?

Hell yeah.

It’s so simple, so easy. You can either fake it or real it. Fake or real. It doesn't matter which one you pick. The real one might look better outwards, but still, you get the same results according to research. 

Lets dig into some more detailed benefits before we start reflecting on why we aren’t doing it

  • Smiling makes you healthier. What happens when you smile is that the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are being released. This relaxes your body and reduces stress, it lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and it affects your sleep to the better. The endorphins act as a natural pain reliever and the serotonin which is released serves as an anti-depressant/mood lifter. Many of today's pharmaceutical anti-depressants also influence the levels of serotonin in your brain. 
  • It improves your immune system. It has been reported that when you’re smiling, the body releases more white blood cells than it usually does. And the prime purpose of white blood cells are to protect the body against both infectious diseases and foreign invaders. So, smiling more often actually makes your body more immune to diseases and hence makes you healthier.
  • It also make you look good in other peoples eyes. A recent study at Penns university found that when you smile you don’t only appear to be more likable and courteous but you actually appear to be more competent. 
  • Smiling also helps to generate more positive emotions within. The best thing is that when you smile, your brain is aware of the activity and keeps track of it. The more you smile, the more effective you are at breaking the brains tendency to think negatively. And for us when we look better and sleep better we feel better.
  • Smiling is contagious. Not only are you balsaming your body and soul but you also nurture others with the glory of your joy. It’s an amazing gift to give someone, you brighten up someone's day immensely. There is no better way to serve someone. 

So there you go, want a more happy and relaxed mind and body? Simply, just smile.

Here comes the golden thought, what the h.. is wrong with us since we only smile 20 times a day?

Do we just wake up one day and decide to stop smiling and laughing? 

I don’t think so.

Are we consciously trying not to smile or laugh?

I don’t think that’s the case either.

Perhaps we got so soar in our mouth muscles of smiling from our early adulthood that we basically can’t do it no more?


Are we afraid of looking silly when we smile? Are we afraid of smiling somewhere it's not appropriate to smile?

Don’t think that is how it is for most of us either. But, I think we are onto something...

It’s a subconscious habit that definitely has something to do with our culture, our society, our norms. Not smiling has become the standard way, a part of our body language, basically since to be able to smile more than 20 times we have to force ourselves consciously to remember to smile.

A real tragicomedy.

It cuts so deep in the structure of our society. School and adulthood educate us on how to be a zombie and we agree. We accept siting in our tight, unfresh classroom, being talked too, not encouraged to ask questions or to use creativity. We are just told to sit down, listen and do as we are told. We all wave and say good bye curiosity and flow state, our new mantra.

How come we ended up lost in thoughts and imprisoned by our emotions?

When I was 19 I figured out that I had to turn this bad habit around and force myself to smile more often everyday. But still, up to this day, I forget about it and have to remind myself over and over again. It’s only when I’m in an environment with others who do smile that I don’t have to consciously think about it. Than it becomes all natural suddenly I’m a part of this contagious choir of broad smiles.

So you can choose not to let your subconsciousness control you by becoming aware of that this is the force driving you. So, rebell and react differently. Take back control. It's not easy, but its definitely possible. What I do to get my grin going is to listen to podcasts that I know will make me smile and laugh out loud. I always try to smile to myself in the mirror and I always laugh a bit longer when I actually catch myself laughing.

Here is a list for you on how to remember to smile more often (yes we are so dumb that we need someone to make a list for us on how to remember how to smile..)

  • Write SMILE with big letters on your mirror, reminding you to smile to yourself whenever you look in the mirror
  • Have a person smiling big time on your computer screen or as wallpaper on your phone
  • Start smiling to everyone; strangers, colleagues, friends, family, and yourself. and everyone will start smiling at you and a healthy circle starts developing.
  • Laugh at peoples jokes no matter if they are bad or noe, just use any opportunity you got to either laugh or smile, and consciously keep laughing or smiling for as long as you can, push the limits
  • Listen to podcasts, sound clips or video clips that you know will make you smile everyday. Play it over and over again, throughout the day
  • Seek joyful places, hang around kids, kindergarten, preschool etc, and other places where you’ll find people smiling and laughing
  • Play more, fail more, run around like a kid
  • Laugh inside, and smile outside when seeing miserable, grumpy, ungrateful people

What you definitely should start with is to start observing yourself, your physical behavior and mental pattern. As I'm pointing out earlier and will continue to point out on all my following posts is that you can manipulate yourself. You can manipulate yourself to the better and to the worse. Your ego loves to level your happiness down, but you can keep raising the level of joy acting consciously. Take a 3rd perspective look on yourself. As a surveillance camera analyzing whats going on, this way you can catch yourself and change your behavior quite easily and efficiently. Start implementing smiling and laughing this way.  

I've also got one challenge for you, I dare you (myself included) to smile to at least 3 strangers everyday starting now. I’d love to hear how it goes, I’d love to hear if you noticed any change, if it made you feel better or gain any new friends or strengthen your relationships with people at work etc.

I’m rarely being smiled at when walking on the street, if so solely by elder people. even when I smile at people, they dont smile back. Crazy, right..  But now, I'll be waiting for yours.

Help set the new standard, be the example the world needs.

Good luck!