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17 Life Secrets to Smile More Often, Feel Great & Laugh Your Stress Away

Life is stressful, but if you learn how to smile more often, you can be a lot happier. You may think it’s difficult, but it’s not as hard as you think. 

how to smile more

Smiles and laughter are powerful forces of nature. When we smile and laugh, our bodies release endorphins and dopamine—nature’s feel-good chemicals. They improve our moods by making us feel calmer and happier. If it makes us feel so good, learning how to smile more often should be a mission for us all!

Generally, it allows us to cope better with stress, find hope, and see problems in a new light. The power of smiling and laughter should never be underestimated, as it turns any negative thought or moment into something with opportunity and positivity.

How smiling can boost your health and happiness

You might not think that smiling has any effect other than letting people see your pretty teeth. But believe it or not, it can really affect your health and happiness in life. Here are a few ways it makes your life better.

1. Reduces stress

When people produce a genuine smile, it lowers people’s heart rates much more than if they don’t smile. Even if you fake a smile, it still reduces your stress hormones more than if you didn’t. [Read: How to reduce stress – 17 fastest hacks to a calmer and happier life]

2. Improves your heart health

Because smiling can lower your stress, it relaxes the body too. So, that means that people who smile and laugh more have a much lower rate of heart disease than those who don’t.

3. Improves concentration and motor skills

When people smile a lot, they are able to concentrate on tasks a lot more efficiently. They also improve their ability to perform the tasks through their motor skills. 

4. Improves relationships

When you are happy and smile more, it makes people want to be around you. Spending time around someone so positive and joyful makes others feel more trusting. Overall, people will be more likely to cooperate with you. [Read: Small changes that greatly improve your relationship]

5. Improves cognition

When people smile a lot, they improve their visual processing as well as their spatial orientation awareness. In other words, their cognitive abilities are greatly improved with a genuine smile.

As you can see, smiling doesn’t just look good, it helps you live a happier, more successful life.

Smiling and laughter relieve stress

You might leave work already feeling stressed but then make yourself feel even worse by scrutinizing the day’s events. What went well? What was finished? Where can I improve? What is my list of to-dos at home? Do we have groceries? Is the laundry done? Did I make the credit card payment? [Read: How to cheer yourself up – 30 ways to find your inner happiness]

In my personal experience, my head was near ready to explode with the mental list I obsessed over. I suppose I had a giant scowl on my face as I was driving because when I looked over at the little boy on the moped beside me, his face was priceless. He took one look at my serious expression and glared at me with the most sincere and stern eyes.

Now getting such a serious frown from a five-year-old was concerning. I must have been wearing quite the look. But what happened next was perfect. After a moment of seriousness, he broke into a giant smile and started laughing.

I couldn’t help my reaction. I instantly smiled back and giggled to myself. His innocent smile was so honest and open I couldn’t help but return the happiness he expressed to me. [Read: Steps to change your life and find your happiness]

Lo and behold, I forgot about what I was thinking and just felt lighter. As Charles Dickens once wrote, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor,” and this child proved that to be so inherently true.

For kids, smiling and laughter come as second nature. They don’t dwell on what did or didn’t happen, and they don’t obsess over what’s to come. They live each moment and never question themselves or their emotions. 

This little guy on my commute home from work set me straight. I realized I needed to stop scowling and remember to smile more often. [Read: 25 memorable life lessons to perfect your life]

How to smile more often – And lead a better life

For some people, smiling and laughing is almost second nature; they do it frequently and genuinely. For others, it doesn’t come as natural. We must make the extra effort to smile and laugh more often.

There are several ways to do this. Some include making smiling cues or the age-old technique of faking it until you make it.

Below is a list of six techniques to start smiling and laughing on a more consistent basis and really feel the benefits of a genuinely good smile.

1. Smile the moment you wake up

The first thing after waking up, before you get up from bed, right after you open your eyes, is… SMILE! This may sound too simple, but smiling first thing in the morning packs a great punch.

If you smile the moment you wake up, you set the tone for the rest of your day. You instantly feel better about whatever the day has in store. 

It helps you approach the day’s challenges with a positive attitude. It also does wonders for helping with morning drowsiness, as smiling gets you up and moving quickly! [Read: 15 ways to be someone who always says, “I love my life!”]

2. Practice smiling a lot

When you practice smiling, it becomes easier and easier to smile naturally over time. If smiling doesn’t come as second nature to you, you can practice while looking in the mirror when you’re getting ready for your day. 

Eventually, your smile will look less forced or strained, and your confidence will skyrocket when you automatically smile at a situation without having to think too much about the response.

When you practice smiling, you start to see things in a more positive light and eventually rewire your brain to see more situations from a positive perspective versus a stressful or negative one. Even if at first it feels a little forced and faked, it still works. Just keep practicing! [Read: 16 things to need to give up to have a really happy life]

3. Create smile cues

To get in the practice of smiling more often, you can not only practice in the mirror, but you can also create cues or reminders to smile. Tell yourself you are going to smile every time you open the door, see a dog or a baby, drink a coffee, or go for a run.

Choose whatever you want to be your smile cues, but hold true – if you’re doing an activity that’s part of a cue, then you should smile! Choose simple things you’ll remember and keep smiling. [Read: Simple things you do to make your life much worse]

4. Change your perspective

Think happy thoughts. Honestly, it works. If you’re thinking happy and positive thoughts, you automatically smile more often!

If you find it difficult to break the rut of negative thinking or a pessimistic attitude, try taking sixty seconds to change your perspective. Be still. Try not to give in to the thoughts racing around in your head, and let your body just relax into a peaceful state.

Free of stress, self-doubt, work deadlines, and to-do lists, just focus on letting your mind be empty. It’s only sixty seconds, but it works to make you feel lighter. Change your perspective to allow more positivity in your day.

It’s a kind of quick meditation to clear your head and get you back on track to thinking more optimistically, and with that comes more smiles and laughter. [Read: 19 life quotes to motivate you to lead a much better life]

5. Smile at everyone

You might think this sounds ridiculous but smile at everyone you see. Simply doing that at every person you come across in a day opens opportunities for happiness and generally feeling good about yourself and your life.

If you meet eyes with someone on your commute to work, instead of quickly looking away, make eye contact and smile at them. When you’re interacting with coworkers, smile. 

Even if you’re confronted with a situation or person that makes you feel uncertain, and you’re deciding between being stern and smiling, just think of one positive thing about the situation and choose to smile.

You’ll instantly feel happier when you choose to smile, and you make that other person feel good as well. Smiles are contagious, so smile at everyone you see in a day. They’ll pass on a smile to someone else, and that cycle will continue to spread. One small smile from you can pass on happiness to so many other people. [Read: 20 lifestyle changes to make in your 20s for a better life]

6. Smile a lot

You can do it when you’re happy, when you feel love, when you feel playful, and even when you’re feeling sad or stressed. Smiling when you’re feeling good is simple, as it’s a natural reaction to smile when you’re happy.

Smiling out of love sometimes takes a bit more courage, as we might feel shy or embarrassed. But if you’re thinking of someone you care about or something that you genuinely love, just do it. Be grateful you have someone or something to be passionate about.

Take a cue from the little five-year-old that set me straight, or from any other happy little one, and remember that openly smiling and laughing is an amazing opportunity to stop stressing and feel greater happiness. [Read: Simple ways to inspire people around you]

7. Express gratitude every day

One of the reasons people get grumpy and depressed is that they don’t appreciate what they have. Instead, they are pessimists and only focus on what is wrong with their lives.

But obviously, that doesn’t produce a smile on your face! So, try to be an optimist instead. Look at your life and see what you’re grateful for, not what you want to change.

There is always something to be grateful for. Whether it’s the roof over your head or the food on your table, you are very fortunate to have those things. Many people in the world don’t. [Read: How to show your appreciation to someone and express your gratitude]

8. Pay attention to the little things

As the saying goes, “take time to smell the roses.” In other words, don’t be so busy and stressed out in your life that you forget to notice what is beautiful about the world. There is so much beauty to see.

It could be your child’s laughter or a funny caterpillar crawling outside. These are “little things,” but they contain a lot of awe if you just think of them in that way. So, don’t let all of the wonderful things that you have in your life and the world go unnoticed. 

9. Listen to happy music and watch funny movies

If you find it difficult to focus on your life and the wonderful things in the world, then you can get a little help from music, movies, or even TV or a book. Those things will help you get out of your funk and laugh. [Read: How to be happy in life – Hacks to find real happiness instantly]

10. Spend time with happy people and compliment them

As they say, happiness is contagious. You are most likely to take on the attitudes and behaviors of the people that you hang around with the most. So, if you’re not hanging around happy people, that’s probably why you’re not as happy as you could be.

Try to find new people if you have to. Gravitate to someone who is naturally happy and smiling. You’ll become just like them after a while.

11. Exercise

Not everyone likes to exercise, but it really does help you feel happy. It releases endorphins in your brain – a feel-good hormone. [Read: Benefits of exercise on your mind, body, and libido]

In addition, the more you exercise, the better you will feel physically. And you might even lose some excess weight and look better. Then when you look in the mirror, you will smile more naturally because you will like what you see.

12. Fake it until you make it

If you can’t conjure up a genuine smile at first, that’s okay. Just try to fake it. As strange as it may sound, when you fake something for a while, it eventually becomes much more natural to you.

How to make smiling a way of life

Integrating smiling and laughter into your day will increase your positivity, decrease stress, and generally make you feel more at ease in most situations.

Laughter and smiling not only make you live a happier, healthier, less stressful, and longer life, but it also makes other people feel good as well. Passing on a smile instead of a scowl is much more beneficial for yourself and everyone around you.

[Read: Really quick stress busters to recharge your mind]

Knowing how to smile more might not be second nature to all of us, but there certainly are things we can do to make ourselves feel more comfortable in sharing a smile with those around us! 

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...