Weight loss/fitness is the most popular New Year’s resolution and the one the highest number of people give up on soon after they proudly declare it. Wouldn’t you rather pick a New Year’s resolution that’s easy to stick to?
Do you want your resolution to make you happier in two seconds or less? You can, right now. But you need to do something very simple:
Maybe, even as you read that word, you smiled! And maybe you noticed at that moment you smiled, you felt a bit better. Maybe you even acknowledged you can be happier.
So, smile. Often.
Smiling is something you can do consciously and purposefully, and it has an impact on how you feel. Studies have shown smiling can reduce heart rate. Smiling can also be an effective antidote to stress. Try it out yourself. When you are in a stressful situation, put on a smile and feel the difference. The phrase ‘grin and bear it’ has some validity.
This might be even easier depending on your gender and nationality. Women smile more than men and the English smile less than many other groups because of their ideas about the virtues of the “stiff upper lip” and not appearing emotional. Children smile roughly 400 times a day, adults only 20 times a day. It’s time to embrace your inner child.
There are so many ways to do it, too. Take a look at people smiling, see if you can notice different types of smiles. There is the ‘felt’ smile, which is a genuine, spontaneous expression of happiness. There is the ‘dampened’ smile, which is when a person tries to suppress a big grin. There is the ‘compliance’ smile in which we show we are in agreement, even though we might have preferred another option. Then there is the ‘listener response’ smile, which says, “I hear you, continue.”
All of these will help you because the simple act of smiling produces a lot of positive brain chemistry. When a person smiles, regardless of which type of smile, the brain releases endorphins. People refer to endorphins as ‘happy chemicals’ the brain produces naturally. These happy chemicals then lead to more smiling, which produces more happy chemicals and leads toward more smiling. It doesn’t matter if you ‘fake’ a smile. The muscle movements involved in smiling are the same, and the happy chemicals start to flow. Just as you can imagine drinking a glass of lemonade and beginning to salivate, you can pretend to smile and generate happy chemicals that further support smiling.
Happy people smile more. And if we smile more, we will be happier. So, be happier this New Year. Smile more!