I was inspired to write this post after my brother told me about a group he joined on campus called Project Hello Stranger. The group runs multiple events with the simple purpose of working towards a happier, more friendly campus. My brother was telling me the other day about an event run by Project Hello Stranger where he and his fellow members were handing out yellow balloons on which they had drawn all sorts of smiling faces. The point of this event? Simply to make strangers on campus smile.
After hearing about such an event I wanted to look into what some of the benefits of smiling are, and more specifically, if smiling has any affect on our productivity. I didn’t have to look very far to find that the simple act of smiling may be used to release powerful neurochemicals, and can in turn have a positive affect on your productivity and on others.
When you smile, you flex the muscles and tiny bones around your mouth and cheeks, which in turn leads to a release of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is often released when your brain wants to associate some action with a reward. More simply, when you perform some action that you enjoy, or do something that makes you feel happy, that feeling comes from a release of dopamine in your brain.
Some studies show that smiling may have a monumental impact on your productivity at work, and that feeling unhappy may decrease productivity by 10 percent or more. But what makes this even better is that people often mimic each others smiles and thus receive a dose of dopamine that has effectively been started by another. So go out there and smile at some strangers, for your productivity’s sake :]