Ron Gutman is a speaker, writer, advisor, serial entrepreneur and angel investor. A graduate of Stanford University, Gutman is the CEO and Founder of the Interactive Health company HealthTap. He is the author of Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act .
The good news is that we’re actually born smiling. Using 3D ultrasound technology, we can now see that developing babies appear to smile, even in the womb. When they’re born, babies continue to smile —initially, mostly in their sleep. And even blind babies smile to the sound of the human voice. Smiling is one of the most basic, biologically-uniform expressions of all humans.
Joy and Satisfaction
In studies conducted in Papua New Guinea, Paul Ekman, the world’s most renowned researcher on facial expressions, found that even members of the Fore tribe, who were completely disconnected from Western culture, and also known for their unusual cannibalism rituals, attributed smiles to descriptions of situations the same way you and I would. So from Papua New Guinea to Hollywood all the way to modern art in Beijing, we smile often, and you smile to express joy and satisfaction.
Smiling is evolutionarily contagious
Have you ever wondered why being around children who smile so frequently makes you smile very often?A recent study at Uppsala University in Sweden found that it’s very difficult to frown when looking at someone who smiles. You ask, why?
Because smiling is evolutionarily contagious, and it suppresses the control we usually have on our facial muscles. Mimicking a smile and experiencing it physically help us understand whether our smile is fake or real, so we can understand the emotional state of the smiler.
The benefits of smiling
British researchers found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate. (Laughter) Wait. The same study found that smiling is as stimulating as receiving up to 16,000 pounds Sterling in cash. That’s like 25 grand a smile. It’s not bad. And think about it this way: 25,000 times 400 — quite a few kids out there feel like Mark Zuckerberg every day.
And, unlike lots of chocolate, lots of smiling can actually make you healthier. Smiling can help reduce the level of stress-enhancing hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine, increase the level of mood-enhancing hormones like endorphin and reduce overall blood pressure.
And if that’s not enough, smiling can actually make you look good in the eyes of others. A recent study at Penn State University found that when you smile, you don’t only appear to be more likable and courteous, but you actually appear to be more competent.