The Secret of Smiles
Scientists found that smiles and laughter are forms of exercises similar to internal jogging that can stimulate the whole body. A smile can provide useful benefits to the brain’s nervous system and body hormones.
Western researchers and practitioners believe that by starting the day with a smile it will not only brighten up our life but also provide many benefits to our health. When we smile, our bodies will be 'smiling' and assume that we are happy. Research showed that smiles will slow down the blood flows through the sinus to the brain. When this “cool” blood flows to the hypothalamus (the body part that controls body temperature and emotions), it creates a "happy" effect. In addition, when we smile, we only use 17 muscles of the face compared to 43 during frowned.
A smile is not just a facial reaction, but also has to do with the production of endorphins in the brain that reduces physical and emotional pain that makes a person feels more comfortable.
One research shows that individual who laughs 100 times in 24 hours is getting the benefits similar to the benefits of exercising the cardiovascular for 10 minutes. This happens because when we laugh, our blood pressures and heart beat rates increase. Then these two rates will drop lower than the level before we laugh after we stop. Thus, it helps lower our overall blood pressures and heart beat rates.
If we observe around us, we will probably find that children laugh more than adults. Children age between four and six years old, laugh 400 times a day compared to only 15 times a day in adults. Therefore, it is not surprised that adults are more susceptible to illnesses and easily suffer from stress and depression.
A study made by a group of scientists from the University of California Medical Center explained that there are two types of stresses, there are good stress and bad stress. Smiles and laughter were categorized as good stress. The bad stress will put pressure on the immune system.
In the above study, two groups of adults have been used as subjects of the experiment. The first group was shown humorous stories while the second group was placed in a room without doing anything. A blood sample was taken 10 minutes before and after the study was made. From the results of the blood sample, the former was found to be better as there was an increase in hormones 'endorphins' and hormones 'neurotransmitters'. There was also a decline in the levels of stress hormone 'cortisol' and 'adrenaline'.
When we laugh, tumor killer cells and natural virus in the body will increase in line with the increase in gamma-interferon (disease fighting protein), T cells (which is important for the immune system) and B cells (which produce antibodies to fight disease). Therefore, smile can help the body to combat the bad cells and improve our overall immunity.
Smile can also lower our blood pressure, increase the inclusion of oxygen in the blood and indirectly stimulate the healing process. Many studies have proven that emotional stresses such as depression, anger or anxiety are strongly associated with heart disease.
A smile followed by laughter will activate the body chemicals and indirectly lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, arthritis and ulcers. University of Maryland Medical Center’s study that was done on 300 respondents found that 40 percent of the people who suffer from heart diseases laugh less comparing to those who are healthy.
Smiles and laughter are good exercise because it involves the diaphragm, abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles. Laughter massages the organs in the abdominal and strengthens the abdominal muscles, stimulates both sides of the brain and increases the capacity to learn. It relieves muscle tension and psychological stress; makes the brain more alert and ready to receive new information.
Laughter is also said to improve bowel function, thereby improving digestion and absorption of nutrients in the body. Some believe that laughter can burn calories such as when we exercise for a few minutes.
Besides providing various benefits to the body, in the teachings of some religions, it is believed that a smile is a charity, a Metta, a sign of love. Smile could be a spiritual healer in chronic diseases. Smile is free, no capital is required, just smile from the bottom of your heart and you will win another smile back. A smile could brighten up the day of ourselves and others. It may also be able to cool a furious heart and start a better relationship.
A poet once said: "SMILES IS THE PETALS. LAUGHTER IS THE PERFECTLY BLOSSOMED FLOWERS". There is also another saying that proposes “Laughter is the best medicine”. Smile and laugh as much as we can, and we are on our way to longevity!