April 28, 2019

5 ways smiling on your travels can change the world – Yes really

Words by Matt Leedham
Travel Better
Photo by Anand Jain via Unsplash

Can a smile really change the world? Absolutely. But it all starts with you. Not convinced? Smile and read on.

A smile says a million words.

You’ve probably heard that ‘happiness lies within’ many times but it’s amazing how often we forget this simple rule.

So what about when you’re supposed to be happy on your travels?

Not only can smiling lower your stress levels and have a positive effect on overall health, but it’s also a powerful tool that you can use to connect with others.

Surely that’s something we’re all craving?

Here’s the benefits.

Photo by mohammad alashri via Unsplash

1. Smiling relieves stress

Each time you smile, you activate and release feel-good neurotransmitters that relax your body, lower stress, and can even lower heart rate and blood pressure.

These neurotransmitters; dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, are then released into your body. The endorphins act as a natural pain reliever, and the serotonin lifts your mood. Ahh, that’s better.

Photo by Ali Yahya via Unsplash

2. Smiling changes perceptions

Smiles are not only beautiful, but they also create joy. Studies show the act of smiling changes the way we perceive the world. Which is very helpful when you’re on your travels.

“Pretend you are happy, and you will feel happy, pretend that you are angry, and you will feel angry,”

Feelings of joy are a consequence of behaviour, they say. “We feel happy because we smile.” And when our perception changes, our responses to others also change.

“Psychologists at the University of Sussex in England reported that when we smile, we see other people’s frowns as less severe and that when we frown we see their smiling faces as less happy,” reports New York Magazine.

Photo by Cristian Newman via Unsplash

3. Smiling creates influencers

When you smile, people treat you differently.

You’re viewed as attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere.

A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing an attractive smiling face makes the recipient of that smile feel rewarded. Researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, rated smiles and attractiveness.

Predictably, they found people were attracted to others who made eye contact and smiled more than those who did not.

When you smile, you become an influencer.

Did you know that your smile is actually contagious?“In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of several emotions: joy, anger, fear and surprise.

When the picture of someone smiling was presented, the researchers asked the subjects to frown.

Instead, they found that the facial expressions went directly to imitation of what subjects saw. It took conscious effort to turn that smile upside down.

So if you’re smiling at someone, it’s likely they can’t help but smile back,” reports Psychology Today.

4. Smiling contributes to happiness

“Happiness is about being able to make the most of the good times – but also to cope effectively with the inevitable bad times,” says Mark Williamson from The Guardian.

Warwick University found those who were influenced to feel happy (see #3 above) were 11% more productive than their peers.

Warton Business School found companies with “happy” employees outperformed others on the stock market.

5. Happiness is contagious

Smiling leads to happiness. And happiness, studies show, increase your productivity, which in turn, creates a positive contribution to society.

Studies show one who is happy is more likely to vote, volunteer, participate in community, and respect law and order.

“There is even evidence that happiness is contagious so that happier people help others around them to become happier too.

An extensive study in the British Medical Journal followed people over twenty years and found that their happiness affected others in their networks across ‘three degrees of separation’.

In other words, how happy we are has a measurable impact on the mood of our friend’s friend’s friend,” says Williamson.

“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”

Mother Theresa

How can you travel to change the world?

Congratulations! By reading this post and taking some of these insights on board, you’ve already made a difference.

Now you can easily create your impact by sharing your new-found knowledge with other friends who you think would also be interested.

Ultimately, responsible travel comes down to common sense – stay curious, keep yourself up-to-date with the challenges at hand and make yourself accountable for your actions on your travels.