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The Smile Prescription: The Secret to Happiness is Under your Nose

Did you know that smiling and laughing are programmed into our brain?

I love this story; it is going blow your mind on how this works!

The Smile Prescription: The Secret to Happiness is Under your NoseDr. Itzahk Fried is a neurosurgery professor at UCLA. What he found is literally shocking in every sense of the word. Dr. Fried’s team delivered electricity to a woman’s brain to stimulate smiling and laughing! It sounds like a taser that makes you laugh!

As the story goes, the test subject was instructed to perform unrelated tasks, such as reading, counting, or moving her hands and feet. When they delivered very small amounts of electricity to the front of her brain, she consistently demonstrated a smile.

At higher currents, a “robust and contagious laughter” was induced, and the higher the current, the longer the duration and intensity of the laughter. This laughter was accompanied by a sensation of mirth and merriment, and when the current got high enough, she would stop performing all other activities while laughing. When the laughter was stimulated with electric shocks, she associated whatever she was doing at the time with being “funny.” Stand-up comics around the world are dying to learn about this technology!

If the test subject was reading about a horse and received the stimulation, she thought the horse was funny. If she was talking to people in the room during stimulation, she thought the people were funny. If you let this sink in, the implications are astonishing. Our brain is like a computer, and brain cells (neurons) work using electricity and chemicals (neurotransmitters is the fancy word for these chemicals in our brain). This electrical and chemical stimulation creates “shocks” in our brain all the time, and we use these shocks to control our body to move, sing, read, laugh, eat, play, or sleep. Just like this young lady, we can give ourselves “Smile Shocks” and stimulate our own brain to feel however we want to feel. We can choose what we find to be funny or not funny. And we can rehearse and strengthen the behavior patterns and neural networks that we choose with these brain shocks. Kind of creepy, and the good news is that you don’t need to hook batteries up to your head to make this happen. Just practice your smile and give your brain a smiling power surge!

Basic neurophysiology tells us that stimulating (or shocking) the brain is how we get better at a musical instrument, sport, language, or any discipline for that matter.

By constantly stimulating a specific area of our brain, we consistently improve that behavior. It is like building a muscle. The more you stimulate it, the more that area develops. Doesn’t it feel good to be stimulated? So let’s make sure we stimulate ourselves (shock our brain) in behaviors that are favorable and serve us. This strategy also works when you stimulate and reinforce behaviors relating to anger, sadness, depression, and rage. And, all of our brain stimulation ultimately comes from within.

So here is the question:  Are you controlling what stimulates your brain? Or, are you letting other people or external factors shock your brain and control what stimulates your behaviors?

Who is minding your mind? If you don’t mind your mind, someone else will start controlling it. Frankenstein had the bolts on the sides of his neck just in case his brain needed a jumpstart. Just think of people in the same way, and sometimes they need a “smile shock” to get their smile going. Always keep your jumper cables handy!

We can Jumpstart a Smile in Anyone!
The Evidence Is In!
Now you can understand why this is so important to me. The evidence is clear that smiling and creating positive meaning in your life will make you happier, reduce your stress, and help you live longer.

On the other hand, lack of smiling correlates to feelings of sadness, depression, and a shorter life span. This is so important, we have created a simple five step fun process that everyone can follow to enhance their smile. Isn’t it fun to learn about the magic in life?

Saturday Smile
Here’s a story I would like to share with you to raise awareness about smiling. So I’m feeling good because it’s a Saturday morning. : ) My wife and daughter like to sleep in so I pack my noisy boys into the car to go get breakfast. My dad used to bring us doughnuts on Saturdays, so I can’t help but take the kids to the bakery. We are in the car, and it is a little too early in the morning for the boys to really get into their fighting (if you have kids you understand), and I propose a game to keep them occupied.

I put my best smile on, “Hey you guys, want to play a game?”

“What is it?” they say with excitement.

“As we drive, let’s watch these people walking and exercising. Let’s see how many we can count that have a smile on their face!” “Okay!” they say with the energy like we were going to Disney World. If they were dogs their tails would be wagging like crazy. It may just be the thought of pastries getting their blood sugars up, but I will take what I can get. We look at the walkers, runners, bikers, and stroller-pushing pedestrians. One, two, three, and so on.

“Do you see any smiling faces?” I say.

“No Dad…” Not a single smile. “Wait a minute…that kid tripped over and fell into the bushes, so his sister started laughing at him.” On a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning in Florida, in a picturesque neighborhood with trees and golf greens, only the sister with the clumsy brother was smiling.

We get all the way to the bakery, passing at least thirty people. “I wonder why people don’t smile more.” My kids and I ponder. The facial expressions of choice were neutral, downward gazes, or mildly pained.

We walk into the bakery smiling, with a sense of adventure as we count faces (my kids were more focused on the doughnuts). People were there, eating, drinking coffee, reading the paper, listening to classical music overhead, and chatting. The young girl behind the counter had a slight smile ready for us. Everyone else was looking downward at their food, newspaper, or electronic gadget of choice. All of the other workers were moving like robots: cleaning, organizing, preparing, working, doing something, being busy, but not smiling. No one looked like they were having fun or enjoying life. I call it robot-face, or bot-face for short.

We walk up to the counter to give our order. I have a soft smile as my boys order, and they can be so wiggly as they talk—you know how little kids somehow cannot just stand still? They are being so cute that the teenage girl behind the counter starts smiling even bigger. Now we are getting somewhere!

I smile and tell her, “Hey, we’ve been people watching today to see who is smiling, and you are the only one in the store that has a smile on their face—and you have a GREAT smile!” She immediately breaks out into a great big smile and says,

“Thank you!” What a nice gift she gave us with her smile!

I told her, “Keep smiling, and make sure you share it with everyone!” As I put the change in the tip jar, she laughed and said, “Thank you for the tip!”

“No problem,” I said.

She looked at me and said, “No, the tip about smiling. You are right, I do need to smile more. I don’t want to look like a zombie. That is a tip that I can use all the time!” And she gave me her biggest smile yet.

We all enjoyed a smile together, and our morning was a memorable one.

It certainly made my boys happy, though I’m not sure if it was the smiling, the pastries, or the sugary sprinkles on top (sprinkles somehow make us smile too.)

What Is the Point of Smiling So Much?
I was shocked to realize that so many people walk around with a blank face, so I started counting to see if I was just fooling myself. I have counted smiles in grocery stores, parks, shopping malls, theaters, restaurants, airports, popular theme parks, indoors, and outdoors. Out of a hundred, the most common number of smiling faces I count is three!! The highest I got was ten, and that was in a restaurant when people were really yucking it up (was it the wine?). A survey of 2,000 people showed that adults smile on average seven times per day.11 —REALLY?!?

One of the reasons we may not recognize this lack of smiling is because it is socially inappropriate to look at people’s faces when they are not addressing us.

Just consider if you are glancing around the room and someone makes eye-contact while you are looking at them. We often divert our eyes and look the other way to avoid embarrassment. So, even if someone is wearing a blank face, it is almost a reflex for us not to check out their face too much. We don’t want to be rude! These social rules make us less aware of how many people wear flat faces in their daily activities. I have a question for you. Have you ever noticed how many (or how few) people are smiling around you? Or how often YOU smile through the course of a day?

When I ask people how many smiles they think they will see in the next hundred people they come across, some say as high as seventy-five percent! Most of us tend to overestimate how much other people (and ourselves) smile. When you realize that so few people smile during their daily activities, it is not so surprising that stress and depression are such a problem today.

Now, consider the opposite of this blank-faced scenario. What if we walked around with a BIG smile on our face? What if we are just happy to be alive, happy we are not in the hospital, or happy that we have two hands, and we show this on our face with a grateful grin?

People will think there is something wrong with us, or that we are drunk, or up to something! It should be the other way around! The world would be a better place if more people walked around with smiling faces, and there were fewer flat expressions to be seen.

Living In Captivity
Take a moment to think about the simple things we do on a daily basis. If you go to the gym, there are usually some very motivated people there working out early in the morning. Their drive is admirable, though their faces don’t usually look very happy. We go to the grocery store, surrounded by more choice.

The hypnosis of daily activities can make us look like we are automatons, or on cruise control. We can appear devoid of joy, happiness, or gratitude for the blessings we have. The bottom line is, people don’t tend to look that happy, even though we live with some of the greatest financial, technological, and informational abundance in the history of the world! People often look like they are living in captivity. When we go to the zoo, we sometimes feel bad for the animals and say, “Wow, those animals don’t look that happy.” Yet, the animals in the zoo look through the bars at the humans and say, “Wow, those people don’t look that happy.” Who is the one living in captivity?!? Maybe that is why it makes us so sad when we feel for the animals at the zoo. On some level, most of us know what it means to be restricted, constrained, or held back from what we really need. People are held captive in their minds from what they want most—to smile and be happy.

Are you going to take control of your life, or are you going to live in the captivity of the auto-pilot mind? Break through the bars, take the Smile Challenge to heart, find your Smile Buddies, and claim the freedom, happiness, and smiling in your life now!

…..Enjoyed this post? Great!
The above post is an excerpt from
“The Smile Prescription” by Dr. Rich Castellano and is available to purchase NOW from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

ABOUT DR. RICH CASTELLANO
Wall Street Journal best-selling author, Dr. Rich Castellano (also known as “The Smile Dr.”) is a double board certified facial plastic surgeon and facial analysis expert. He travels the country training doctors, healthcare providers, and entrepreneurs in innovative non-verbal communication found in his bestseller, The Smile Prescription. Dr. Castellano is currently the #1 Double Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon Bellafill injector in the world, and the #1 Radiesse injector in the Tampa Bay Area. He is the first facial plastic surgeon in the world to regularly broadcast his surgeries and procedures LIVE to thousands of viewers across the globe on Periscope.tv and FB. Dr. Castellano has made hundreds of live appearances including guest interviews on The Daily Buzz, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, and numerous other media outlets.

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