Smiling, Moods, & Health


Submission Guidelines | About Us | Programs and Services | Committees | What is a Universal Genius? | Hypatia Chat | Membership | Resources | What's Going On? | Bylaws

Smiling, Moods, & Health
     by Dan Johnston, PhD

Hypatia Society

He who laughs, lasts.
   ~ Mary Pettibone Poole

Do you want a guaranteed, easy way to improve your mood and your health? Try smiling.

Dr. William Fry, a physician and researcher, has studied humor for 20 years and found that it is good for us -- not only for our mood -- but for our health as well.

Laughter relieves stress and improves our immune system. Laughing has been described as an internal jog; massaging our inner organs and giving them a workout. Smiling exercises 14 facial muscles. When we laugh our blood pressure goes up and then comes down. We also stretch our lungs, relax our chests, and breathe easier. Laughter causes our bodies to release neurochemical compounds associated with an improved mood. When we can laugh at something, we change our perspective and our attitude.

It is hard to have a grumpy outlook when laughing. As we laugh, we momentarily distract ourselves from our problems and, perhaps, even from our physical discomfort. Life just seems to get better when we can laugh. How frequently do you laugh?

How often do you smile?

Research has found that four-year-old children smile and laugh about 400 times a day while for adults smiles and laughter decrease to only 14 times a day. Four-year-olds are often joyous, and adults are not.

What happens between childhood and adulthood? What is the difference?

Maybe, as we become serious, hard-working adults, we lose our sense of humor along with the freedom to laugh. Such a loss is unfortunate because humor can be healing.

Now you may say that you don't have much to laugh about, and this may be true. It is hard to force yourself to laugh, especially when you don't feel like it. You can, however, make yourself smile.

Forcing yourself to smile may work almost as well as laughing, at least, for changing your mood. Putting a big smile on your face sends a message to your brain that things are -- okay. If you are smiling, your brain thinks, "I must be happy!" You can fool yourself into feeling good by smiling. As your mood improves, you open yourself to new possibilities. Other people, noticing the change, respond differently to you, and soon you may be laughing as well as smiling.

Life is getting better because you smiled.

Be sure you smile today.

Smile on purpose, even if you don't feel like it. See if you can fool yourself into a good mood. --As the saying goes, "Fake it until you make it".

Intentionally smile. Laugh, if you can. It improves your mood and health.

So start smiling and see if your life doesn't begin to go better.

Dan Johnston, PhD. is a clinical psychologist and author of Lessons for Living: Simple Solutions for Life's Problems, a self-help book of common sense ways to make life go better. He is also the creator of the Awakenings Web Site, which offers tools for psychological and spiritual growth.

E-mail Dat at,

2002 Dan Johnston, PhD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Genius is more often found in a cracked pot than in a whole one.  ~E.B. White