Happy World Smile Day! If you have no idea what World Smile Day is, then you're not alone. I, too, had to google this one, and what I found is it relates back to that iconic yellow smiley face that came out of the 1960s.
Created by Harvey Ball of Worcester, Massachusetts, for a local business, Smiley (yes, that yellow face has a name), has since become an international symbol of, well, smiling, happiness, and pretty much the whole “Don’t worry, be happy” way of living. In 1999, Ball decided that the world needed an official World Smile Day and declared that first Friday of every October would be the perfect day for it.
The concept of World Smile Day may sound a little cheesy at first, but if you look at all the benefits of smiling — things you’ve probably never even realized — you’d be surprised. I certainly was, and I’m doing my very best to overcome my perpetual resting bitch face in order to participate in this year’s World Smile Day. I fear I still have some work to do.
My shortcomings aside, here are some pretty interesting facts and benefits about smiling. You, too, might even be inspired to quit your frowning for just one day.
smiles are AWESOME FOR MANAGING STRESS AND ANXIETY
Honestly, who the hell wants to smile when they’re knee-deep in work, or dealing with other factors that force your anxiety through the roof? But if you can take a deep breath and allow your face to relax and smile, you can actually take all that anxiety down a few notches.
It’s when we allow ourselves to smile or have a laugh with friends that endorphins are released and we start feeling more at peace. Of course, you probably can’t walk around grinning maniacally like the Joker for the rest of your life, but if you can remember to smile, even when it all feels like a bit too much, you’ll feel the change in your body almost immediately.
smiles STRENGTHEN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Yes, it's true! Smiling has been attributed to higher white blood cell counts. A study of sick children in a hospital found that kids who were visited by puppeteers, storytellers, and other entertainment that had them laughing and smiling had an “increase of lymphocytes was 8.43 percent higher, the decrease was 12.45 percent lower, and the proportion of children showing increased lymphocyte counts was more increased.” While a bit of that terminology may be lost on some, what it comes down to is that happy kids, even if they’re very sick, just fair better in the long run.
IT’S EASIER TO SMILE THAN it is to FROWN
Although I find this one hard to believe, I do my best not to fight science, because I always lose.
Despite the fact that scientists can’t agree on an exact number of how many muscles are used for a smile and a frown, what they can all agree on is that, on average, it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. I guess this means it takes more effort to be in a shitty mood than a happy one, so why not go with the happy one?
SMILES ARE CONTAGIOUS
We already knew that yawning is contagious, but so are smiles.
When it comes to human contact, scientists have found a direct correlation of “perception of an emotionally expressive face and the facial response of the viewer himself.” What this means is that although faces do tend to mirror what they see in front of them, whether it’s happiness, neutrality, or sadness, the one that evokes the greatest response is the smile. Even if you don’t realize it, thanks to the medial basotemporal lobes in your brain, seeing another smile will make you smile too...or at the very least, grin in return.
BOTOX THAT PREVENTS SMILing CAN LEAD TO DEPRESSION
A new study found that women who have Botox around their mouth area, therefore preventing them from smiling fully, are actually more likely to be depressed. When the muscles are frozen in the place, it stops the necessary signals from reaching the brain when the person is happy. Because those signals aren’t being allowed to do their thing, the result can be pretty detrimental on our souls, leading to depression. Yikes.
ADULTS DON'T SMILE ENOUGH
The average child laughs upward of 300 times a day, while most 40-year-olds laugh about four times a day. Meanwhile, adults who actually regard themselves as happy smile only about 11 times a day, while the average is just seven times a day — with one of those smiles being fake! A poll of 2,000 people found that 51 percent save that fake smile for their bosses. No surprises there.
THERE ARE 17 DIFFERENT TYPES OF SMILES
Of course, not all smiles are the same, but smile and facial expression expert Dr. Paul Ekman has discovered that there are 17 different types of smiles, which fall under to two basic categories: Polite and happy.
The polite category is reserved for smiles in social situations and may, even at times, be fake. The happy category, on the other hand, is an array of genuine smiles that you actually feel, and can be noticed by others because of the creases they produce around the eyes.
So go ahead, smile! (That said, any guy who tells us to smile on the street is going to get it.)