It’s easy to think that with all the problems in the world, there’s little we can do individually to make a difference. But if we all thought like that, nothing would ever improve.

Collectively, if lots of people focus on one act of kindness at a time, however small, that adds up to a massive amount of kindness and positive change.

And the simplest and smallest thing that can be done?

Smiling.

It’s free, it’s easy, it’s portable and it works.

Firstly, smiling makes make you feel great – your body language can influence your emotions. It is well-documented now that smiling can increase your level of happy hormones. The feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released the instant you smile. This can chill you out, lower your heart rate and lower blood pressure. Endorphins act to relieve pain. Naturally. And what’s more, the serotonin release as a result of your smile can be an anti-depressant. Even if you force a smile, you can trigger all these positives.

Secondly, smiling can make others feel good. Smiling is contagious. Seeing people smile stimulates our mirror neurones and instinct for facial mimicry to trigger a smile. Apart from helping to create social bonds, smiling can lift someone else’s mood.

Not bad for a simple grin, I’m sure you’ll agree.

So, keep smiling people!

The next time your child smiles – tell them what a difference they have made. Praise them. Explain the science behind why it is good for them and how it can help others. It may just be one of the most effective things you’ll ever teach them.

(Thank you to Science Daily and Psychology Today for the Sciencey bits.)

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