“I just like to smile! Smiling is my favorite!” - Buddy the Elf
Have you ever noticed how smiling is contagious? When you’re passing a stranger who is beaming at you, you can’t help but shoot a smile, too. Or maybe a good friend did something embarrassingly funny like snort milk out of their nose, and you two are stuck in a laughing frenzy. Or maybe you’re coaching a kid who’s on the field with a grin stretched ear to ear, and involuntarily you smile right back. Not only does smiling make you feel good, it also helps others feel good, too!
There are numerous benefits to smiling that impact our overall health and wellbeing. First, the act of a smile reduces chemicals in the body such as cortisol and adrenaline that influence our anxiety and stress levels. Second, smiling releases endorphins, which are mood enhancing chemicals that help us feel good and relaxed. Lastly, a smile has the ability to lower overall blood pressure in the body, which produces feelings of ease.
A smile can also influence how you perceive others and how others perceive you. Research found that a person who is smiling is seen as reliable, relaxed, sincere, and attractive. In the brain, the sensory area that is activated while smiling is the same area where our reward center is housed. The same effect happens when you see others smile. Your brain receives a rewarding sensation every time you smile and every time you see a smile!
Take advantage of all of the benefits of smiling and use your body to train your brain. Next time you are doing a task that you don’t enjoy, try smiling throughout it. The smile will create a feel-good effect on your brain and ultimately your body. Next time you do that task, your brain will be conditioned to create the feel-good effect, and it will not seem as bad!
The kids you work with will feed off of the energy you bring to practice, positive or negative. So head out to the court or the field and crack a smile. Watch it spread from one athlete to the next, and maybe you’ll find that you’re all having some fun, too. Bill Ripken said it best, “It’s a baseball game, it’s not baseball serious. It’s a baseball game and we want it to be fun.”
This is the power of a smile.