Smiling: A tool of Compassion


Tap into your minds eye. Visualize a warm and loving smile. The kind of smile that erases worry and infuses peace. That is the smile you feel, this sort of smile creates an emotional response of sympathy, optimism, and connection. It is automatic.

Who is it that is smiling at you? Is it you in the mirror, someone passing by, someone you love?
For me, when I need a lift I visualize my grandmothers smile. Her smile provides me with immediate relief from the loop of worry in my mind.

Studies suggest that smiling, forced or not, can have a positive effect on your mood, decrease stress levels, and even make everyone around you feel better.

  1. It’s easier to smile than to frown: Scientists have discovered that it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown.
  2. Smiling relieves stress: Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that fight off stress hormones. The messages from the neuropeptide during a smile relaxes the body and can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
  3. Smiling can boost your mood and reduce pain: Your body immediately releases endorphins when you smile, even when you force it. This sudden change in mood will help you feel better; and endorphins act as a natural pain reliever.
  4. Smiling can improve your immune system: Your body is more relaxed when you smile, which contributes to good health and a stronger immune system.
  5. Smiles are contagious: Mirror neurons cause an involuntary smile response at the sight of others’ smiles. In a study conducted in Sweden, people had difficulty frowning when they looked at other subjects who were smiling, and their muscles twitched into smiles all on their own. 
Smiling is a tool, use it to maintain and to encourage a culture of compassion. Smiling is a practice of self-care and an act of kindness that can lead to interconnectedness. The positive effects that one simple (free!) smile has on you and those around you are magical. Mirror neurons are dancing with each other, from one person to the next. Your blood pressure and heart rate lower, your mood lightens, your body aches less. The beautiful way our brain responds by releasing neuropeptides, essentially covering our brain in a protective layer that combats stress hormones and response.

That is the power of a smile. Smiling at its core is an act of compassion. Smiles are inclusive and equitable. Share them willingly and often.

Corey Dobyns
The Love & Light Institute 

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Kroger Community Rewards

Did you know that you can help create a more compassionate Atlanta every time you go to the supermarket?

If you have a registered Kroger Plus Card (available for free at the Customer Service desk in every Kroger store) and a Kroger Community Rewards online account, and choose us as your designated non-profit organization, your purchases will begin earning rewards for Compassionate Atlanta within 7 to 10 business days!