There is a contagion out there that I really think everyone needs to be aware of. It can be spread by physical or visual contact. Also audibly in the right circumstances. This “bug” is in fact so contagious that it can spread literally in seconds and has an immediate effect on the brain, altering levels of vital chemicals. You may be thinking right about now, “Why haven’t I heard anything about this? What should I do?” Well, here’s what I think. Since I am talking about the incredible smile and it’s ability to change your life and the life of others around you (even complete strangers) I say get infected! Smiling has real health benefits and is something we all need to catch more often. Aside from the purely external benefit of making us more attractive to others, smiling has been proven to increase neuropeptides which fight stress. Let’s face it, who here couldn’t use a little help fighting that? … Yep, as I thought, no one. We all face stress every day and we all could use a little pick me up. A smile might just be the pick me up you need. Also released when we smile are the neurotransmitters: dopamine, and serotonin, as well as endorphins. So a little run down on the effects of these little chemical gems. Dopamine motivates us. It allows us to see rewards and then go for them. Serotonin works as an anti-depressant and mood lifter. You’ve probably heard the word if you have any experience with depression. Endorphins, now there is a chemical for you. They work at blocking pain (I’m all for that) and increasing mood (I’m all for that too). Other benefits of these chemicals being released in the brain are a decrease in blood pressure, lower heart rate, and increased relaxation. Sounds pretty wonderful doesn’t it? But how true is it? Well I know I have benefited from it many times. Lousy day? Put on a smile and sure enough I perk up. I used to work in customer service. Actually I used to work in very fast paced, demanding customer service. My co-workers often thought I was off my rocker. Why? Because I kept the biggest smile plastered on my face all day long. Truth be known I didn’t particularly care for my job, but as long as I kept smiling I still managed to have fun. I got through every day feeling pretty good. So I have a challenge for you. If you really want to know if it works decide right now to spend one whole day smiling at everyone, including yourself. Sure, life might knock you down a little through the day, but smile anyway. And then at the end of the day you be the judge. You decide if the smile isn’t the best little “virus” you could ever catch!