Keep Smiling

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Here I am, well into my adulthood and I find that my favorite song of the moment is Raffi’s “Banana Phone.”

Those of you with little kids will recognize the title.

I can’t get enough of that song. I’m singing away to the catchy tune that has me stepping time with my toes and spouting phrases such as “It’s a phone with a-peel,” and “Now you can have your phone and eat it too.”

Why am I digressing to such an infantile state of mind? Because in going there I find myself smiling and chuckling incessantly. Children smile a whopping 400 times a day, while one-third of adults smile just 20 times a day.

There really is an art to smiling when we get older. Life throws its fastballs at us and we react accordingly with a dodge here, a catch there, and for many of us, lots of painful hits in various places.

Slowly our constant smiley, happy attitude diminishes over time until we save it for special occasions. I’ll never forget the quote by Leo Buscaglia: “How are you?” he asks and when his friend answers, “Fine,” he responds, “Well why don’t you tell your face?”

I think all of us need to tell our face to stop fretting, worrying, glaring, fuming, blaming, and hurting. Negative, unhappy attitudes truly hinder the health of the body.

Seriously, folks.

OK, maybe not seriously – humorously, then.

Do it, right now. Smile. It’s simple. Pull those cheek muscles up, say “cheese” and let those teeth sparkle. How do you feel? Give it a moment. Don’t give up. Keep smiling.

Know what’s happening to you while you have that happy look on your face? Lots of good things.

Let’s start by stating you are definitely more attractive and looking younger. Need I give any better reason for smiling?

We are drawn to people with smiles. Smiles and laughter are both contagious and have a magnetic effect. Who wants to approach a face with a scowl?

So are you still smiling? Good. I bet your mood is picking up because smiling tricks the body into feeling light and happy. Your immune system is improving and you are starting to release endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Stress is leaving your body and you are reducing your blood pressure.

All these good things happening on account of a simple smile you are giving yourself. It has been demonstrated that facial expressions – whether they represent anger, sadness, or disgust, or happiness, joy, or kindness – manifest the same bodily reactions even if they are faked. The body doesn’t know the difference, it just responds.

So choose that smile instead of a frown.

Oh, and did I mention smiling feels like eating 2,000 chocolate bars? Yup. According to the British Dental Health Foundation, a smile produces the same level of stimulation as eating lots of chocolate bars. Smiling is definitely the calorie-free choice, so stick to the grin instead.

And smiling makes you live longer. According to recent research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, elderly optimistic people were less likely to die then pessimists.

Keep smiling. It’s no boloney – it ain’t a phony – smiling brings on health like a boomerang – it comes right back at ya.

I bet right about now if you’ve kept that cheerful expression on your face you are feeling pretty darn good. Make it a daily habit to find something to smile about, look at life closely and see the lightness of being written in every moment you live.

And don’t forget to pass those health benefits forward. Smile at someone. Smile big. Admire their wonder and how, despite their quizzical look, a smile takes form on their face.

It costs absolutely nothing, but buys you and healthy wonderful day.

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  1. I love Bananaphone too! I have it on my iPhone. My friend Andy was singing it one day– and now all my friends are– and we’re in our 30s. It’s the first time I ever heard Raffi. I know it’s a kids song, but it’s so “a peel ing.”