Just last week I had gone into Schaal Fitness to do my workout - I certainly don’t do this to lose weight - keeping it on is the problem - My workout is to oxygenate and stay alive.
When there, I always try to greet and thank the staff for that gift.
Last Friday, my friend Crystal, who has been a long-time observer of my health issues, was under the weather. I could tell that she was miserable. Before leaving, I thanked her, like normal, but stopped to give a piece of advice. “Smile more this weekend.” She smiled cordially, but I wanted her to know that I was doing more than encouraging her.
“Smiling strengthens your immune response,” I said.
“Really?” She said with skepticism. “I’ve never heard that before.”
“Smiles are powerful. Not only do they generate engagement between two people, but the more someone smiles, the healthier his/her brain can be… Seriously! Smiling more often, regardless of your mood, can improve your health and even help you live longer. Check out seven health benefits of smiling below.”
(7 Health Benefits of Smiling)
Would you believe that smiling can affect these areas?
Improving Mood, Relieving Pain, Lowering Blood Pressure, Strengthening the Immune System, Relieving Stress, Improving Relationships and Creating a Younger Appearance.
...which would mean, not being able to see a smile or share a smile should also have a negative effect: Mood Swings, Inflammation and Pain Sensitivity, Higher Blood Pressure, Weaker Immune Response, Increased Stress, Blocking or Deteriorating Relationships and Accelerated Aging.
Studies have also been done that show that smiling can change negative feelings, alleviate depression and help reduce anxiety - not just when we engage with another person - but even practicing smiling in a mirror has incredible medicinal effects on our minds, emotions and bodies.
Though, for many, choosing to smile may be the most difficult part.
Maybe this can be a simple act of the will, but I believe it goes deeper.
Many years ago, in a visit I had with a former student we landed on the topic of recovering from cancer. He had not known the extent of my surgeries or of the effects of chemo. Somewhere in that conversation, I showed him a selfie I took while doing chemo on the third floor of the CCC [Comprehensive Cancer Centers] across the street from St, Joseph’s Hospital.
“Whoa!” he said. That’s different.
What? I asked.
Amid the drip line anchored to my exposed chest and port, was my broad smile. That’s what caught him off guard. “You’re smiling.” To him it didn’t make sense.
You see, early in my cancer journey I had decided that I was going to treat it like an adventure. I knew that many had traveled that path, but I wanted to live to tell about it. I didn’t want to live in fear. One of the hardest things I faced was others looked back at me (in secret horror) like they could see me in a coffin. What I needed was a smile.
At the CCC my smile was not a pasted-on cover-up. My mind was released to live in the Spirit. I’ve written about this over and over and podcasted it as well. We are Spirit, Soul and Body - completely synced by God’s design. To imagine medically treating the body apart from His design doesn’t make sense.
I believe that depth of expression is rooted in the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22,23].
I believe it is God-conferred. I accept it as part of the gift of life through salvation and receiving eternal life. I believe the blood of my Savior runs through my veins because by his stripes we were healed [Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24]. I tell myself that truth daily. I acknowledge with God that my next breath originated with His “Breath of Life” [Genesis 2:7].
So, the fruit of the Spirit “joy” in this case, accomplished through Jesus Christ, resonates from within; it doesn’t begin with my facial muscles.
What if I could share with you a picture of what we see at work in our Spirit, Soul and Body that speaks to this. Would you want to see that? If so, email me a :) and I will joyfully share it with you.