Smiling: the Exercise of Happiness

Jeff has a PSA for you: one of our most amazing God-given abilities is our ability to smile, and the more we smile, the happier we’ll be. In this episode, Jeff shows how Scripture and science support each other when it comes to this amazing God-given ability, and he challenges you to give everyone you meet today a genuine smile!



A woman with the most beautiful smile had a lot to say on this topic:
  • “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
  • “Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
  • “Peace begins with a smile.”
  • “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”

Those are all quotes of St. Teresa of Calcutta

A smile is universal… it crosses all cultural and communication barriers. It is the universal sign of happiness.
  • A smile is something we are born with the ability to do. Babies learn a lot of behaviors and sounds from watching the people around them, but scientists believe that all babies are born with the ability, since even blind babies smile.
  • Some people pooh pooh this idea saying, “The baby is smiling because it has gas.” That’s absurd.
 A PSA for You
P = Physical aspects of smiling
  • When we have a positive experience, or react to another’s smile, our brain send a signal to the smiling muscles in our face telling them to contract. Once the smiling muscles in our face contract, there is a positive feedback loop that now goes back to the brain and reinforces our feeling of joy… Simply put: our brain feels good and tells us to smile, we smile and tell our brain it feels good.
    1.  But what about that “social smile”… we all have one  When we smile, there are 2 potential muscles we activate. The first one is the zygomaticus major and it controls the corners of your mouth. Whenever this muscle only is activated, it’s not actually a genuine smile. Yep, it’s a social smile. Christmas presents.
    2.  But what about a true Mother Teresa smile? What make a smile a true smile, one that has our brains and facial muscles doing the happy dance? That involves a second muscle, and using that muscle shows sincerity. It is the obicularis occuli and it encircles our eye socket. (You smile with your eyes)
    3. It is easier to smile than to frown. Scientists have discovered that your body has to work harder and use more muscles to frown than it does to smile.

6 Quick Physical benefits

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Better mood, especially for bad days.
  • Relieves stress
  • Strengthens your immune system
  • Lessens pain
  • It is contagious

The science Behind a (Fake) Smile

Even if you’re not actually happy, activating the muscles associated with smiling can fool your brain into thinking you are. Lead researcher Sarah Pressman PhD of the University of Kansas explains, “It’s not just that our brains are happy and make us smile, it can also be the opposite — we feel the smile and become happy.”

In a separate study at the University of Kansas, researchers had subjects use chopsticks to shape their mouths into smiles or frowns, and then induce a stressful situation. The results were surprising: those simulating smiles had lower heart rates and stress levels than those faking frowns.

P  (continued)= Psychological aspects of smiling
  • Forcing yourself to smile can boost your mood. (When I’m down I stop in gas stations and smile at myself in the mirror)
  • Smiles relieve stress: Your body immediately releases endorphins when you smile, even when you force it. That powerful feedback loop can actually change our brain. This sudden change in mood will help you feel better and release stress.
  • Smiling helps a person more attractive, sociable and confident
S = Scriptural and Spiritual Aspects of Smiling
  • Numbers 6:24-26–“The Lord bless you, and keep you; The lord make his face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace (Shalom)
  • Numbers 6:22-27– “The priests were solemnly to bless the people in the name of the Lord. To be under the almighty protection of God our Saviour; to enjoy his favor as the smile of a loving Father, or as the cheering beams of the sun; while he mercifully forgives our sins, supplies our wants, consoles the heart, and prepares us by his grace for eternal glory (The Miniature Commentary: Being Short Comments on Every Chapter of the Holy Bible, 173.)
  • Scripture backs up science—a true smile is good for the whole body:
    • Proverbs 15:30 “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones”
    • Psalm 119:135  “Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes.”
      • “Make your face shine”…. Your face shines when you smile a true smile, when your eyes “light” up.
    • Psalm 31:16
    • Psalm 4:6
    • Proverbs 15:30 A cheerful look (bright eyes) brings joy to the heart (gladdens the heart) ; good news makes for good health.
    • Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but depression drains one’s strength. (NASB)
    • Proverbs 15:13-15 A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit. A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash. For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.
A: Affect

How can you affect others with your smile?

A smile changes hearts. Be aware of your smiling this week!


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