Monday, April 22, 2013

How to Find Happiness A-Z: S

(Previously published as a guest post, but so darn awesome I had to share it again...)

What do you think of when you hear the word, “cheese”? Yummy milk products? Picture taking? General silliness?

For me, cheese = smile = happiness.

We moved to NYC when my daughter was only a year old. She had absolutely no fear of people. She’d walk up to any stranger in the subway and take their hand—while I suffered heart palpitations. Even though it put me on edge, I had to appreciate that my child faced the world with such boldness, that she saw goodness in everyone. She had such a sincere love for people that she couldn’t help but spread it.

And the miracle? People responded. Hardened New Yorkers softened when she looked at them with those big eyes and that sweet smile. They constantly commented on how adorable she was, and everywhere we went, a trail of smiles followed.

Image courtesy of Nemo via Pixabay
It is a scientific truth that smiles pass from person to person, just like yawns. They’re contagious. In one experiment I watched, a well-timed smile even prompted the recipients to stop and help someone who’d dropped some books. Can you imagine that? A smile inciting the inherent goodness in people?
According to Gary L. Wenk, a Ph.D. and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, a smile (fake or real), pulls on the thin bones in the face and causes increased blood flow through the frontal lobes of the brain. When that happens, the body releases an increase of dopamine—which is a naturally occurring “happy drug.”

Believe it or not, you are dosing yourself with happiness every time you smile—and inspiring others to do the same. Maybe that’s the real secret behind children being so much happier than adults. They smile more.

Seems like my daughter had life all figured out at the age of one. Guess I should try to be more like her, eh? Would you like to try the experiment with me? Let’s see if we can’t make the world a better place, one “cheese” at a time.

27 comments:

  1. What a delightful post! Yes, I like to smile and pass them on, but I didn't realize they were contagious like yawns, which can pass by merely the mention!

    Happy S day--may it be filled with smiles!
    tm

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    1. Same to you! --And here's to learning new things, eh?

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  2. I'm smiling as I read. Your daughter sounds cuter than cute :)

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    1. And she is. And unfortunately she knows it. ;)

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  3. I love the research that found that even fake smiles make you feel better. So yeah, stretch the cheeks and grin! (excellent S word!)

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    1. It's true. I often wondered about that, but my research yielded the same conclusion.

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  4. Wow! Cool experiment! Your daughter sounds adorable.

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  5. That innocent openness is beautiful to behold.

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    1. I know, how do we lose it? And why? My new ambition in life is to be a 1 yr old. *shifty eyes* Or not... =)

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  6. how fun, I know an older person going through dementia/alzheimers, and on days that are particularly confusing, a smile really helps

    also isn't it funny how a mind can create an image, I never would have dreamed you live in NYC

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    1. Smiles are magical. =)

      Yeah, I never would have dreamed me living in NYC either. But it happened. And thank goodness, it's over with!

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  7. I make it a habit to always include a :) in every comment I leave. It's my way of spreading smiles. Love this post!!

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    1. Aw, thanks! Me too. I mean, people need to know we're grinning ear to ear while we comment, eh?

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  8. I believe - totally believe this is how it all works.
    Thank you for the story -
    I'm in.
    -g-

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  9. Aww this post made me smile. Thank you! :D


    <>Deecoded<>

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    1. *bows* Always happy to share a little cheese. :)

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  10. Bful post
    In the day to day Havoc we need more smiles and happiness :)
    I did a similar H post :D
    Good luck and kisses to ur daughter

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  11. Smiles and yawns! Who knew they had so much in common. ; ) Cheese is one of our earthly gifts for sure.

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  12. Say "cheese" I'm smiling now! :)

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  13. Amazing about the science behind it. And it totally coincides with the "fake it 'till you make it" bit of advice about pretending to be happy will help you actually feel happy. Wow!

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Hit me with your cheese!