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Smiles ahead

by HARVEY MACKAY
| August 7, 2022 1:00 AM

There is a face-lift you can perform yourself that is guaranteed to improve your appearance. It's called a smile.

A smile improves your looks and takes years off your appearance. Who doesn't want that? I learned long ago that one of the most powerful things you can do to have influence over others is to smile at them. It should be standard equipment for all people.

Let's celebrate National Smile Week, held annually during the second week of August. We are reminded to take the time to smile, to bring happiness to others as well as to ourselves. If you don't start out the day with a smile, it's not too late to start practicing for tomorrow.

Smiling in the workplace can be misinterpreted as a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm a big believer in the proverb "Don't open a shop unless you know how to smile." That's why I never underestimate the value of a smile. You shouldn't go to work without a smile … and that goes for your personal life too.

The smile is "the symbol that was rated with the highest positive emotional content," concludes scientist Andrew Newberg.

Smiling is the universal language. Everyone understands a smile, and it makes you more approachable. Smiling increases your attractiveness, makes you appear more intelligent and improves relationships. The shortest distance between two people is a smile. It's environmentally friendly. Best of all, smiling is quick and easy to do, and it's free.

The Broadway musical and movie "Annie" had a memorable song titled "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile." I couldn't agree more.

Why did the "Mona Lisa" become one of the most famous paintings of all time? One possible answer is her unique smile. I'm still curious what she was smiling about!

The benefits from smiling are enormous, starting with your health. A smile is a natural antidepressant and elevates your mood. It can help your immune system, lower blood pressure and even serve as a pain reliever.

Recent studies also show that smiling reduces stress and anxiety, similar to getting a good night's sleep. Smiling helps you feel better. Children smile on average 400 times a day, while the happiest adults smile 40-50 times a day. The average adult smiles only 20 times daily.

Smiling can help you live longer. Ron Gutman, author of "Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act," wrote, "British researchers found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate." Who would have thought that smiling can induce more pleasure in the brain than chocolate?

In his book, Gutman cited a Wayne State University research project that studied pre-1950s baseball cards. According to Gutman: "The researchers found that the span of a player's smile could actually predict the span of his life. Players who didn't smile in their pictures lived an average of only 72.9 years, where players with beaming smiles lived an average of almost 80 years."

Comedian Phyllis Diller said, "A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."

According to Harvard Medical School's "Harvard Health Publishing," optimism — which is linked to smiling — is associated with a lower risk of early death from cancer and infection.

Smiling encourages positive thinking. When you are dealing with a negative situation, a candid smile inspires positivity. It's hard to think of negative things when you are smiling. Your brain is telling the rest of your body that life is good.

If smiling doesn't feel natural to you, then practice. Look in a mirror and put a big smile on your face. Even a fake smile can improve your mood. Take a smile break. Remind yourself to smile at every opportunity. A good laugh helps, too.

Smiling is contagious. Help spread it around. Just think — you can help another improve their well-being by giving them a chance to smile back!

Mackay's Moral: Wear a smile — one size fits all.

• • •

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his website, www.harveymackay.com, by emailing harvey@mackay.com or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

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