The Importance of a Smile: Joy Across the World

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What is the importance of a smile?

Not only will smiling give you health and emotional benefits, but you will also be playing your part in spreading joy around the world. We often underestimate the effect of smiles on others.

😊 Click here for 120+ Smiling Captions and Quotes to inspire joy

Many of us are aware of the latest health fads: the ketogenic diet, super-foods, and even Netflix and chill (I’m sure that has health benefits), but how often do we pay attention to the time-honoured humble smile?

It’s been around for centuries, so shouldn’t we be giving it the attention it deserves?


  • Smiling is a universal language
  • Smiling encourages positive thinking
  • A smile makes you more attractive
  • Smiling is contagious
  • A smile is a natural anti-depressant
  • Smiling can make you look more intelligent
  • Smiling is free
  • A smile can help your immune system
  • It’s quick and easy to do
  • Smiling can improve relationships
  • It’s environmentally friendly 😉
  • Smiling can lead to a promotion
  • It can lower stress
  • Smiles can help you live longer
  • Smiles can be a pain reliever
  • Your smile can be a gift

Personally, I smile a lot. My nickname at my first place of work in my late teens was ‘Smiler’. For someone nicknamed ‘Ostrich’ by the kids in my street for being tall and skinny, ‘ Smiler’ was a vast improvement.

My Grandmother’s smile reached right into my heart. Each time her beaming face shone at me, it was as if she’d scooped me up in a warm blanket of love.

My Grandfather had a cheeky grin and loved a joke. They nurtured my propensity to smile, and I’ve often used it on my life’s journey.

keep smiling written on a yellow post it note

Life can throw us a few curve balls now and again, and being able to smile our way through them can be a useful tool in our toolbox.

Now, as I travel the world – a smile is always on the packing list – it certainly makes communication easier, and when you are doing something that you love, it’s easy to keep your smile in tip-top condition.



A gesture we all understand across the world is a smile. It is something we all do innately and is not something that we learn to do. For example, babies who are blind smile at their parents’ voices.

In the words of the late writer and poet William Arthur Ward;

A warm smile is a universal language of kindness.”

Being on the road for so long now and having visited so many different countries, we have used this valuable commodity on many occasions.

When neither of you speaks a common language, a smile and a laugh go a long way in getting along.  It’s the universal language, so they say, and as we road trip around the world, it has gotten us out of several tricky situations.

smiling quote with photo of woman smiling and touching her heart

In most countries, a smile conveys warmth and friendliness and tells the other person, ‘We come in peace!’

That said, though, how we perceive a smile is learned, and that perception can vary between cultures. Countries like the United States, Canada, and Australia have smiling cultures, whereas countries like China, Russia, and Japan do not.

This is something to remember if you travel to other countries.

Throughout our travels in Europe, we have had many a time when a smile has warmed our hearts and made us feel welcome, even when we shared no common language.

However, there have also been occasions where our smiles have been met with stone-cold faces. Sometimes, this is an individual thing, but can also be reflective of a specific culture.

In the main, though, smiling brightens the day for most of us across the world.

💡When travelling, take some travel games for extra fun, smiles and feel-good endorphins.


Studies have shown that smiling when doing something you don’t necessarily like helps you to feel much more positive about the task at hand.

Darwin originally developed this theory, which is now known as the Facial Feedback Response TheoryIt basically means that your brain recognises the movement of your facial muscles, so when they are in the ‘smile’ position it thinks that you are happy, which helps you think positively about the situation.

So, break out a full-bodied beam next time you want to lift that optimism level a notch. One that causes the sides of your mouth to curl up and the skin around your eyes to crinkle.

That way, your brain gets the message that you are happy, which will help you have a more positive outlook.


Ladies, did you know that the most important thing in your makeup bag is your smile?

A smiling quote in a pretty pink background

Studies have found that your smile has a bearing on your perceived attractiveness.

The study, ‘Something to Smile About‘, found that,

The evaluation of attractiveness is strongly influenced by the intensity of a smile expressed on a face: A happy facial expression could even compensate for relative unattractiveness.’

Therefore, it’s not so much the colour of our lipstick but what our lips are doing.

Another article discusses how a dating app, Coffee and Bagel, found that women who smiled and tilted their heads to the side in a photo appeared even more attractive.

Something to remember for your profile pics and those of you using dating sites and apps.

Smiling not only makes you look more attractive but also healthier. What’s even more interesting, and this is especially for those more mature ladies among us, researchers at Swansea University found that,

‘ …while younger adults look healthier when they smile, older adults look much healthier. A smile was a more important cue than how old the face appeared to be.’ – Dr Alex Jones

… Scientific proof that a smile really is the best accessory.


“A smile is infectious and contagious. Pass it on!” 

Debasish Mridha

Most often, when you smile at someone, they smile back. Little neurons in our brain are wired to imitate another person smiling as it helps us assess how that person is feeling. We are also emotional human beings, and most of us want to reciprocate.

Here’s a fantastic smile ditty from Spike Milligan (1918-2002)

Smiling is infectious

You catch it like the flu,

When someone smiled at me today,

I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner

And someone saw me grin.

When he smiled I realized

I’d passed it on to him.

I thought about that smile,

Then realized its worth.

A single smile, just like mine

Could travel round the earth.

So if you feel a smile begin,

Don’t leave it undetected.

Let’s start an epidemic quick

And get the world infected!

Spike Milligan


When we smile, even if it’s fake, our brain releases serotonin, which is a natural anti-depressant. Along with the release of endorphins, our brains are pumping us full of these natural ‘drugs’ and getting us high on happiness.

Ron Gutman, the author of Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act, gave a fascinating Ted Talk on the Hidden Power of Smiling.

two people smiling at the happiest 5 km colour run with coloured headbands as an example of the importance of smiling
Lars and I on the happiest 5k on the Planet – The Colour Run in Perth, Australia

He refers to studies that have found a smile to be as stimulating as 2000 bars of chocolate, meaning that the pleasure of smiling far outweighs that of chocolate.

Personally, I think they may have used the wrong chocolate bars.

That said, if smiling made me feel as good as chocolate, it would definitely save the waistline. The day a smile comes with a smooth, creamy, delicious taste, too, then I might buy into that piece of research;)


Studies have found that smiling makes you more attractive; consequently, you are more likely to be considered intelligent.

young adult mae dressed in a suit smiling

A more recent marketing study suggests that the size of your smile can affect that perception. They found that a subtle one makes you look intelligent compared to a wide one.

A wider grin, although not so good for the appearance of intelligence, suggests to others that you are warmer and kinder.


There aren’t too many valuable assets today that don’t have a price tag attached to them. This is one area that does not need your budgeting attention. So, don’t be frugal with your smiles. Use them to your heart’s content.


This one is a great example of the importance of a smile in connection with your health. Smiling releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals), which, in turn, cause a reduction of cortisol (your stress hormones). As a result, this means that your body is more effective in fighting off infections.

To get the most benefit, it should be genuine and not fake  – think of something that makes you laugh or something that genuinely makes you smile, and your immune system will get a welcome boost.


So many of us seem to be time-poor, so this is one thing that won’t be a drain on that finite resource. It can take less than a few seconds but can brighten someone’s whole day and improve your health and well-being.


If you smile, other people automatically think you are more likeable and will warm towards you much more quickly.

blue and white pottery figurines kissing with quote - one smile can start a friendship

One study looked at the smiles of college students in their yearbook photos, measured their smiles and then assessed their lives in later life. The study concluded that those with bigger smiles went on to have happier and longer marriages.

We all like being liked and just a simple act of smiling a little more can make a big difference in how you get along with others.

Another study showed that if you smile when on the phone you sound more friendly to the person at the other end. Another reason to put a smile on your dial 🙂


This simple act does nothing but improve your environment. No trees are cut down, no plastic is wasted and a smile is completely reusable, time and time again.

Smiling is sustainability at its best.


Smilers are perceived as more confident and sociable.  Ultimately that means that the more you smile, the more likely you will be picked for promotion.

Smiling and positivity at work give an impression that you are happy in what you are doing — the best sign to your boss that you will, therefore, give more to the job compared to someone who is lacklustre in the smiling department.


young man with long hair dressed in blue winter gear in the snow patting a golden retriever and smiling

Next time you are feeling stressed, pop on a smile to let the tension ease away.

The aptly named Grin and Bear it study showed that if a person smiles and then undergoes a stressful activity, they have a lower heart rate, and their recovery from the stress is quicker.

Again, these results achieved the most success when it was a genuine smile, but just having the face in a smiling pose decreased the stress in comparison to no smile at all.


It’s quite possible that smiling could add quite a few years to your life. Just another testament to how smiling and positivity are so good for you and your well-being.

The wider your smile and the more laughter lines you have, the longer you are likely to live.

Scientists measured the smiles of baseball players and then compared these with their lifespan. The study concluded that smiling could add five to eight years to your life.

It’s such a simple thing to do and has such huge gains.  

So get those wide grins going and crinkle up those eyes for a longer lifetime of fun and happiness.



Smiling while experiencing pain lessens the effect of the pain. Studies show that pain can be reduced by up to about 40%.

This particular study found that people who smiled while getting a needle reported up to 40 per cent less pain than people who didn’t. Not a bad natural remedy to have available right there on tap.


When someone smiles at you, you get a kind of warm fuzzy feeling. That happens because our brains see it as a reward.

So it doesn’t just feel good for you. That great feeling transfers onto someone else.  In addition, when they smile back at you, you get an extra boost too! …and so it goes on.

The gift that just keeps on giving.

‘We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.’
 – Mother Theresa

So, go ahead and give yourself a gift right now. The more you do it, the more it becomes a natural habit.

Smiling is not only wonderful for your own well-being but so many other’s welfare, too. Due to its remarkable ripple effect, we have the power to spread joy and change the world, one smile at a time.

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Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

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