Here Are the Benefits to Your Brain — and the Brains of Everyone Who Sees You

This is a scary statistic.

Children smile an average of 400 times a day. (Ultrasounds show they also smile in the womb.) Adults who are known to smile a lot do this about 40 to 50 times a day.

The average adult smiles roughly 20 times a day.

Before you tell me, “It doesn’t feel like there’s a lot to smile about these days,” and I agree with you, understand this. What happens in your brain — and the brains of everyone who encounters you when you smile — means we should be paying more attention to smiling. Here’s why

Know you can get the same benefits if you choose to smile that you get from reacting to a funny or pleasurable experience. Your brain doesn’t care why you smile, just that you smile. We’re not talking about a big, toothy, forced grin, just a pleasant upturn of the corners of your mouth. And you’ll look just as sincere and confident to the rest of the world, which helps you create successful connections.

Research supports this. The University of Aberdeen in Scotland showed men and women pictures of faces expressing a range of emotions. Both sexes rated the images of those who looked directly at them and smiled as the most attractive.

Lift your mood — and the moods of everyone around you — because it’s awfully hard to frown in the face of a smiling person. Help everyone get immediate and long-term health benefits. And increase the chances you’ll be more persuasive.

Let’s start now. Here’s my favorite quote about smiling. It comes from the book Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act by Ron Gutman: “British researchers found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.”