Scientist and spiritual teachers alike agree that the simple act of smiling can transform you and the world around you. Current research  shows us that a smile is contagious. It can make us appear more attractive to others. It lifts our mood as well as the moods of those around us. And it can even lengthen our lives.

How Smiling Affects Your Brain

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.

Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress. Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, excited. The feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well. This not only relaxes your body, but it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. The endorphins also act as a natural pain reliever – 100% organically and without the potential negative side effects of synthetic concoctions.

Finally, the serotonin release brought on by your smile serves as an anti-depressant/mood lifter. Many of today’s pharmaceutical anti-depressants also influence the levels of serotonin in your brain, but with a smile, you again don’t have to worry about negative side effects – and you don’t need a prescription from your doctor.

How Smiling Affects Your Body

When you smile, people treat you differently. You’re viewed as attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere. A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that 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.

How Smiling Affects Those Around You

Your smile is actually contagious. The part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression of smiling when happy or mimicking another’s smile resides in the cingulate cortex, an unconscious automatic response area. So, each time you smile at a person, their brain coaxes them to return the favor. You are creating a symbiotic relationship that allows both of you to release feel good chemicals in your brain, activate reward centers, make you both more attractive and increase the chances of you both living longer, healthier lives.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but I am convinced that gracing your face with a smile can seriously change your internal and external experience. Your smile is something that should be worn often, so make it a priority to surround yourself with people, places and things that brighten your day. Vow to be the positive, happy person in your group of friends. Watch funny movies often and be sure to look people in the eye and show them your pearly whites. The world is simply a better place when you smile.