Go ahead…smile! How often do you smile in a day? If you are an average adult, it’s about 20 times a day. If you are an exceptionally happy adult, your teeth may show 40-50 times a day. It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
But when we compare it to the number of times the average child smiles in a day—400 times–the quotient for adults is shockingly low! Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we became more serious, tired, reserved, sad, discouraged, _______________ (you fill in the blank). And the loss of the smile has a significant effect on the health of your marriage.
In a 2011 TED talk, Ron Gutman gave a fascinating message on the power of smiling. His research is peppered throughout this post and you can watch his talk below. Gutman describes a UC Berkley 30-year longitudinal study that examined the photos of students in an old yearbook. They then tried to measure the students’ success and well-being throughout their life. He said that “by measuring the students’ smiles researchers were able to predict how fulfilling and long-lasting a subject’s marriage will be….” All from their smile! In other words, if you want to build a healthy marriage an important ingredient is learning to smile…a lot!
Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to your smile:
Your smile might take practice
Many adults have forgotten how to smile. In fact, their muscles have been trained toward a frown or just an expressionless look. Train your muscles. Stand in front of a mirror and smile at yourself. Get used to how it feels. Show some teeth (or at least curl your lips and cheeks upward!). Connect your face to your emotions. In fact, if you’re happy and you know it…”tell your face!”
Your smile is contagious
Based on a Swedish study, if you smile at someone they will naturally smile back. If they don’t smile back then they are making a conscious effort to frown. So when you smile more, your spouse will smile more and then you will smile back and on it goes. You could ignite a smile-fest in your marriage over time!
You lift your spouse’s countenance
The Bible says that “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart” (Proverbs 15:30). Your face has the ability to inject hope and happiness into your mate’s life without saying a word. A gentle look or a quick playful grin are sometimes all your spouse needs from you.
You feel better
When you smile you release serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins—neurotransmitters that create feelings of happiness and feeling good. As one author writes, “Each time you smile you throw a little feel-good party in your brain.” In fact, British researches have found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as 2,000 bars of chocolate!
Mother Teresa said, “I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.” The good your smile can do in your marriage will be more than you can grasp, and you can start smiling right now as you build your marriage!