In my business, I work to help people all over the world live happier, healthier and more meaningful lives. My clients often tell me that they want more happiness in their lives. Ask any parent what they want for their children and they want them to be happy.
We all want to be happy.
How do we actually get happy?
Let’s talk about some very powerful tools that we can start using to increase our happiness, joy, and satisfaction in life.
Happiness can mean different things to different people, so let’s take a moment to define what it is.
A simple definition is that happiness is the “feeling or showing pleasure and contentment.”
I really like the Merriam Webster dictionary definition because it uses one of my favorite buzzwords. It says happiness is “enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment.”
I really love the word well-being. That’s a great word. I try to use it in my everyday vocabulary.
So being happy is first a feeling from within, and is displayed for other people to see.
Signs of Happiness
What is the first sign of happiness? How can you tell if somebody is feeling joy or contentment?
If you said a smile on their face, you would be correct. So this is our first tool that I want to share with you today. It’s actually smiling. I know it’s a little simple but there’s a lot of research and a lot of powerful feelings that come from smiling.
Mother Theresa said:
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, was the first one to actually begin doing studies on emotion. Why is that important? Emotion is important because it affects our contentment, happiness, health and all of the other wonderful areas of our life. Happy people are healthy and successful people. They tend to live longer. Happiness is a very important goal for everybody and smiling can help produce that emotion of happiness.
Now, there’s been tons of research and case studies on this. Our own lives can testify to the effects of smiling and happiness.
Smiling = Happiness = Healthy = Long living
Why Smiling Increases Happiness
What is it with a smile – that frown turned upside down – that is so compelling? Why is it so good?
Smiling produces endorphins, allowing the release of serotonin and those chemicals create good feelings. It lifts our moods. Smiling makes you instantly more attractive. You don’t have to lose 5 pounds; you don’t have to go and buy a new shirt; you just have to put a good smile on your face and you’re instantly attractive.
Smiling can lower blood pressure, increasing your resistance to illness. Smiling as a tool for creating happiness is very effective.
Now, not just every smile will do. Not all smiles are created equal. According to research done by a very famous French neurologist, Guillaume Duchenne, we can use what we call an “emotional social smile” which a lot of us walk around doing.
The social smile is a smirk, a slight upturn at the corners of your mouth. That’s not the kind of smile that is going to produce the results you want. You have to produce what I like to call a Real Deal Smile.
Duchenne was able to figure out that good feelings come from the muscles engaged around your mouth and your eyes when you smile. The whole muscle structure of your face is involved in the Real Deal Smile. If you are interested learning more behind the psychology of smiling, there are a couple of other doctors that have done really great research including Paul Ekman.
At the end result of all the research is that smiling is the easiest, cheapest thing that you can do to create a better life for yourself, instantly. So let’s put this first tool into practice.
How to SMILE
The first thing that I want you to start doing is learning how to smile. Not all smiles are created equal so you have to get in front of the mirror and practice the Real Deal Smile. You have to engage your mouth and your eyes. If you need to close your eyes for a minute and think of something that you really like, do it.
For me, I close my eyes and I think of my little firstborn son, my husband, or my girls. I can’t help but to smile since I love them and they make me feel good. I can feel my mouth and my eyes involved in that smile. I love my children and can feel the engagement of my eyes in that smile.
Again, we aren’t talking about the “hey-what’s-up-smile” you give to people you pass on the street. That is not a happiness producing smile. That’s not the smile that all the psychologists are talking about. It has to involve the muscles around your mouth and your eyes.
I want you to have that smile on your face more and more throughout your day. More than you might be already doing. It will change your life. You can be smiling even when you’re working.
I try to smile when I’m washing the dishes, doing the laundry and definitely when I’m driving. When I focus on myself when I’m driving, so I feel really tense. I start to smile and I immediately relax. Smiling relaxes your body.
So try to smile in front of the mirror and try to smile as you’re going throughout your day.