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The Healing Power Of Smiling And Laughing

Written by: Veronica Sanchez De Darivas, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

A smile has the power to connect us all. It can instantly brighten up our day, make us feel better and improve our mood. Smiling is a language in itself, one that is understood worldwide. Likewise, laughter is a form of medicine that can heal us mentally, physically and emotionally. It's no wonder that people say "laughter is the best medicine."

Three best friends hugging each other in the city.

A few years ago, I learned about the research done on laughter and how several groups of people were already practising laughing in therapy groups and getting great results in terms of mental and emotional health.


From a scientific perspective, smiling and laughing are both forms of facial expressions that are associated with positive emotions, however they differ in a few things.


Neuroscientific studies have shown that smiling and laughing involve different neural circuits and brain regions. Smiling is operated by the left prefrontal cortex, which is associated with positive emotion regulation and social behaviour. On the other hand, laughing, is operated by a more complex network of brain areas, including the amygdala and others which are involved in emotional processing, social communication, and reward.


Socially, smiling is often used as a signal to show friendliness and approachability, whereas laughing is associated with humor and play. Laughing, in terms of social interactions, is more contagious than smiling, because it is easily spread from person to person, influencing the environment.


In this article, I talk a bit more about the power of smiling and laughing, the scientific research behind them and some ideas to incorporate them into our daily lives.


The Benefits of Smiling and laughing


Smiling and laughing are not only a way to express happiness or joy, but they also have several health benefits. Smiling and laughing can boost our immune system, lower our blood pressure, reduce stress and even pain.


Several studies have been published in the journal Psychological Science and other studies have been conducted by the University of South Australia, as well as the University of Cardiff in UK and others around the world. Researchers found that people who smiled after completing a stressful task had lower heart rates than those who didn't smile.


Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that laughter therapy was effective in reducing depression symptoms in patients with depressive disorder. Another study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care found that laughter therapy was effective in reducing pain in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain. And, laughing can improve cognitive function, creativity and memory.


The act of smiling triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood boosters. And even if you do not feel like smiling you can make yourself to do it because, this simple act, will send a signal to your brain and it will trigger the release of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, all associated with happiness. Laughter also releases endorphins.


On a more mundane “side effect” space, smiling and laughing can make you to be perceived more attractive and approachable. In addition, smiling and laughing have an impact in building better relationships and improving social interactions. A smile produces positive emotions and makes others feel more comfortable and a good laugh is contagious and brings joy.


Ideas for incorporating more smiling and laughing into our lives


We can clearly see how smiling and laughing are immensely beneficial for us, and the good news is that it is not hard at all to bring them into our everyday lives, we just need a bit of willpower to allow them more into us. Here are a few ideas to help you start.

  • Watch a funny movie or TV show: One of the easiest ways to incorporate more laughter and smiling into our lives is to watch a comedy. There are plenty of hilarious movies and TV shows available now that can make us laugh and feel good. A study conducted by Loma Linda University found that watching a funny video increased memory function in older adults. Then, my guess is that this same memory function effect can happen at any age.

  • Spend time with friends and family: Socializing with loved ones is a great way to increase smiling and laughing and boost our mood. Spending time with people who make us happy has an immediate effect in our heart rate and stress levels.

  • Smile at people: A simple smile goes a long way. Smiling at people makes them feel acknowledged and appreciated leading to a positive ripple effect. Do not forget that “smiling at someone” is not only an act directed at them, it is also directed towards yourself, as you receive the benefits of that smile too.

  • Try laughter yoga: Laughter yoga is a type of yoga that involves laughing exercises and deep breathing. It can be done in groups or individually and is a fun way to increase laughter and get immediate health and emotional benefits.

  • Connect with your heart by breathing in and out a bit slower and deeper than normal, focusing on your heart area, then activate the feeling of appreciation and smile. Do this for about 5 minutes.

  • Practice gratitude: Focusing on the positive aspects of our lives and being thankful for what we have naturally leads to more smiling and laughing. Start by keeping a Gratitude Journal, and smile when writing as this simple yet significant act will impact your mood.

In conclusion, the power of smiling and laughing cannot be understated. These common acts may have profound effects on our mental, emotional and physical health, as well as our social connections and relationships. By making a conscious effort to smile and laugh more often, we will improve our overall well-being and lead happier, healthier lives. Then, let's embrace and embody the power of smiling and laughing and spread joy wherever we go.


“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” –Charles Chaplin

“I smile like a flower, not only with my lips but with my whole being.” – Rumi

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Veronica Sanchez De Darivas, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Veronica Sanchez De Darivas shares tools on how to manage stress, negative emotions and build resilience and on how to use high vibration words. Veronica is a Spanish grammar and literature teacher. During the last twelve years, she has dedicated herself to spirituality and is a Certified Instructor for the Cyclopea Method of Internal Activation of the Pineal Gland, a method created in South America 33 years ago by the spiritual leader Fresia Castro. Veronica is the first instructor in the world teaching this life changing method in English. Veronica is a Spiritual Life Coach and a HeartMath Certified Coach as well. Veronica is also an author. She has been writing for many years for online magazines and blogs in Spanish and English. Veronica is both a Chilean and an Australian citizen now living in the UK. Her mission is the expansion of consciousness.

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