How Far Does a Smile Go ?

By : K.E.

We’ve always been told that a smile goes a long way, but how far does it really go? Merriam-Webster defines a smile as “a facial expression in which the eyes brighten and the corners of the mouth curve slightly upward and which expresses especially amusement, pleasure, approval, or sometimes scorn”. But a smile means more than just the curvature of the mouth, it is more than just an expression of amusement, or pleasure, or approval, or even scorn. It is a keyhole to the soul.

I unwillingly reach over to snooze my alarm to catch five more minutes of sleep. Before I know it, I hit the second, third, fourth, then fifth snooze and realize I’ve overslept! I rush to the kitchen to prep my lunch for the day and realize I hadn’t prepared it the day before. One of the prime examples of the Monday blues! I rush to get ready before attempting the dreadful waking of my two year old son. He loves his sleep as much as I do.

Within the first 30 min of my day, I was already in a bad mood. I gently lie beside my son, rub his back to ease him into consciousness. His big beautiful brown eyes open and he whispers, “Good mornin’ mommy” and he flashes a half crooked smile pressed up gently from the pillow. My heart drops and my smile beams from ear to ear. Suddenly, I’ve forgotten the about the mood I felt just a second ago, all from the tiniest of smiles. My day was ready to begin with the infectious smile he gave me, proof that when you smile, the world smiles back.

Smiling is one of the simplest gestures that create the biggest impact, an impact not only to others but to yourself. It is more than a physical gesture. It is truly one of the most contagious things. It can alter your mood, your confidence and the perception of others towards you. But, did you know that smiling can also improve your overall health? It can lower your blood pressure, decrease stress, and improve your immune system. Smiling can improve your relationships with others, improve your confidence level and even help with anxiety and depression.

When we smile, neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, are released in our bodies. These act as body relaxers and can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. The endorphins are the body’s natural pain reliever and serotonin acts as an antidepressant. These may sound familiar as many pharmaceutical companies produce synthetic versions of these and sell it them in a billion dollar industry. But why pay when you can smile? A guaranteed cure – no prescription needed!

After recently having some dental work done, I’ve been able to smile more than I thought I could. I was always self-conscience about smiling, especially an open smile. Yes, I have the highest of gratitude towards my dentist, but it’s also fixed something inside of me. I’m learning how to truly smile, not just because, but with conviction. Being happy with my smile has actually made me feel better in other aspects of my life. The level of stress and anxiety I had hovering over my head has lightened. I catch myself smiling at others with no expectations but to make them smile too. My smile may not be perfect, but it’s perfect for me.

Dentistry thrives on the patient satisfaction of a smile, but a smile cannot truly radiate if it’s not a smile from within. Remember that a smile goes a long way, and how far that goes is up to you. Preaching about practicing good oral hygiene is only half the battle that helps radiate your smile, but finding other reasons to smile improves your overall health. Sharing a smile even with a stranger creates a domino effect and encourages them to smile back. You both release these positive chemicals within your bodies and wind up creating a symbiotic relationship that not only feel good within, but you’ve continued on your life journey knowing you’ve made someone feel the same way. Now that’s something to smile about!

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