While being your own boss and uplifting your community is a source of joy and pride, entrepreneurship is often called “the grind”. Stress is inevitable, but making an active effort to smile more often not only improves your health, longevity, and stress levels, it also makes you a better business person.
The Power of Smiling
Sarah Stevenson, a yoga instructor with a degree in Behavioral Psychology, confirms, “Each time you smile you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness.” Physically, smiling releases molecules and neurotransmitters that lower your heart rate and blood pressure and relax your body. Mentally, those neurotransmitters also double as natural antidepressants and mood elevators.
Smiling also affects those around you in a positive way. Stevenson adds, “seeing an attractive smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that process sensory rewards. This suggests that when you view a person smiling, you actually feel rewarded.” Another study revealed that both men and women are more attracted to images of people who make eye contact and smile than those who don’t. Yet another shows that smiling is actually contagious–that’s right, your smile triggers the recipient to smile back, giving both people a mutually-rewarding, tasty neurotransmitter boost.
Ron Gutman, CEO of HealthTap, adds, “British researchers found that one smile can provide the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 chocolate bars; they also found that smiling can be as stimulating as receiving up to 16,000 Pounds Sterling in cash.” A smile may seem like a simple act, but it packs an unequivocally positive punch.
So when you’re feeling ground down, smile. Even if you don’t want to. First it will make you feel better, then it will draw people to you, and that’s the key to any successful business.
How to Make Yourself Smile More
If you’re just too stressed to smile naturally, fake it ‘til you make it. A forced smile has the same effects as a spontaneous one. In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, psychology professor and author Daniel Gilbert says, “Nylon is real; it’s just not natural. Synthetic happiness is perfectly real; it’s just man-made… They have different origins, but they are not necessarily different in terms of how they feel. One is not obviously better than the other.” Once you practice the synthetic form, the natural will come more, well, naturally.
Here are ten ways to get yourself to smile more:
- Sunlight. Exposure to sun, even for five minutes, is a natural mood elevator.
- Call someone who makes you laugh. The smile and the personal contact both do wonders. If he or she isn’t available, bookmark a few of your favorite funny clips so you can give yourself a laugh break.
- Get some natural endorphins going with a little extra physical activity. Take the stairs or walk on your lunch break.
- Do something for someone else. People who volunteer are happier than people who don’t.
- Practice gratitude. Write down something you’re grateful for each morning.
- Listen to music. Make yourself a playlist of the songs that make you feel good and listen to it on the way to work or while you’re getting ready in the morning.
- Indulge in your favorite food. Both looking forward to the meal and eating it will boost your mood.
- Place objects that make you smile in your sight line, like photos, mementos, or references to inside jokes.
- Practice in front of a mirror. Seriously. If you want to be a natural at something, you have to practice. Your bathroom is a better place to get the weird trial smiles out of the way.
- Go to the dentist. If you’re self conscious about your teeth, you’re not going to show them off. Flash those pearly whites!
What do you do to uplift yourself when you’re having a rough day? Tell us your top tips in the comments.
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert