The Power of Smiling and Laughing

February 6, 2018

I smile and I feel good; I make someone smile and it makes me happy. When I smile, I feel less stressed. If I’m going through a hard time, when I smile I feel like I might just be able to handle it. A smile relaxes me and distracts me.

Is it true that laughing makes us live longer? Yes, there is some truth to it… And do you know why? Because when your brain laughs, it releases endorphins.

Endorphins are released in all positive moods and they play one of the most important roles in feeling pleasure and helping the brain dull sensations of pain.

Also, when we laugh we release less cortisol, the stress hormone. To compensate, the brain releases dopamine, a substance associated with positive emotions. Laughing, we also release negative energy from the body, just as Freud told us.

I don’t want you to miss out on the power of smiling and laughing, so I’ll also tell you that when you activate the facial muscles responsible for laughing, your brain immediately starts to release dopamine and endorphins, even if your smile isn’t spontaneous. 

This last nuance is very important, because this means that by consciously changing our expression we can also change our state of mind. Amazing!

a woman smiling and laughing

On the other hand, what happens when others make us laugh? Well, your brain gets oxygenated and your limbic system activates, which facilitates memory retention. 

So, don’t forget to make someone laugh before telling them something you want them to remember. Their brain will be more prepared to code, retain and recall that information.

“A smile costs little but is worth a lot. The person who causes a smile is happy and the person who receives a smile is grateful. It only lasts an instant, but the memory sometimes lasts a lifetime”

-Mariano Aguirre-

Social effects of smiling

Having seen how our brains work when we’re laughing, now we’re going to see what happens to others when we offer them a smile.

One thing we know is that smiling makes us more attractive. We like smiley people more than people who don’t smile or who mostly frown when we meet them.

Smiling projects an image of security and self-esteemtrustworthiness and approachability. And when we smile, we feel more optimistic and better about ourselves. That self-perception is noticeable.

Smiling has the power to make others sile, thanks to our “mirror neurons”. These neurons are responsible for making us imitate what we see around us.

That’s why sometimes, when we hear or see someone laughing like crazy, we start doing the same without even knowing why. In essence we get “infected” by their positive energy.

father and son laughing

Humor and laughter can give us a new perspective because they activate our prefrontal cortex. This area is responsible for the most advanced human functions, like creativity, perseverance, flexible thought and organization. In fact, this was shown by a study about laughter and the brain carried out in 2010.

Surround yourself with people who make you laugh

Now that you know all the benefits of laughing, you know it’s worth looking for people who make you laugh. Optimistic people with smiles on their faces. You know to surround yourself with people who transmit energy and happiness. 

You can look for people who know how to laugh about their problems, who can see the funny side of situations and above all who know how to laugh at themselves. You’ll want to be with people who spread smiles.

 

Let’s make a commitment to making others laugh, releasing dopamine and endorphins, reducing cortisol, and activating our mirror neurons. I commit to this because I want to see you laugh. Because humor helps us overcome adversities and see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

I want to do this, because maybe when I have nothing more to offer, I can at least give you a good session of laughter…