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Scientific reasons you should smile more

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

She blinded me with science

If you think your smile is just a way to look pretty, think again. The human smile communicates volumes, both to your physiology and to the world at large. Here are the many reasons why it's important to flash your pearly whites as often as you can.

Woman smiling joyfully | Sheknows.com

Photo credit: Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Smiling reduces stress

Next time you're stuck in traffic or working against a deadline, stop to smile. Yes, smiling actually appears to reduce feelings of stress. According to Smithsonian, people who smile through stressful events (whether the smile is genuine or not) have fewer physiological stress reactions and reduced stress hormones, and they report less stress than those who don't smile.

Smiling makes you happier

We smile when we're happy, right? The reverse is actually true, too. The human brain is stimulated when facial muscles move into a smile, whether or not the smile is caused by happy emotions. In one study, for instance, participants were instructed to hold pencils with their teeth to simulate the facial contractions of a smile. Researchers found that people who hold a smile — regardless of their emotional state — actually report feeling happier afterwards.

Smiling improves relationships

According to a University of California, Berkeley study, people who smile often are more likely to have fulfilling and happy marriages and relationships than people who do not. Try smiling at your spouse every day to see if the research holds true for you.

Smiling breeds trust

A recent Penn State study confirmed what we inherently know to be true: People who sport genuine and warm smiles are considered more trustworthy, more likable and more competent than people who do not. Trustworthiness, in turn, can translate into more success in your career and relationships.

Smiling can reduce pain

Scientific American reports that people who grimace during painful medical procedures experience more pain than those who do not. Conversely, people who manage to smile during painful events actually report less overall pain. Next time you're getting a vaccination or exercising, try to force a grin to reduce the sensation of pain in your body.

Smiling enhances attractiveness

Forget the angry stare of fashion models: It's your warm smile that makes you attractive. In a 2003 study referenced in the Observer, the reward center of the human brain lights up like crazy when presented with a picture of a smiling person. Essentially, this means that the human brain is hardwired to feel attracted to people who smile.

Bonus: Since your smile is so important for your overall health and happiness, make sure you feel confident to flash your grin by using a high-quality toothpaste like like ARM & HAMMER™ Truly Radiant™ for a bright and strong smile.

Tell us: How have you experienced the health benefits of smiling?

This post was sponsored by Arm & Hammer.

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