Recently I came across some new research showing that we learn faster when we smile. When we have that subtle upward turn in our mouth we also have an inward turn upward, a lift in our spirit.
Try this yourself make an inward smile just hold it for a few seconds and a feeling of contentment will ensue. Now do the opposite turn your face into an angry frown and hold this expression for a few seconds notice how this produces a quite different and not so pleasant feeling. So knowing that smiling produces a more positive attitude and feeling I wondered why we don't just do it? Any practise including smiling takes a little effort, one must set an intention to be aware of one's expression and choose to smile. We are mostly unconscious of our facial expressions and are so busy with life to pay attention to our expressions. Learning to become more conscious moment to moment is one of the greatest benefits of T'ai Chi, Releasing, Mindfulness Yoga and all other arts that tune us in to awareness. Each time we begin an exercise in T'ai Chi we remind ourselves to make an inward subtle smile, with the daily practise the smile becomes a habit, a positive habit that helps not just our mood but also helps to keep us healthy and live longer.
Ron Gutman's Ted talk is really interesting and confirms how beneficial smiling is for our lives.