Cheese and Children
What do you think of when you hear the word, “Cheese”? Yummy milk products? Picture taking? General silliness?
For me, cheese = smile = happiness.
We moved to NYC when my daughter was only a year old. She had absolutely no fear of people. She’d walk up to any stranger in the subway and take their hand—while I suffered heart palpitations. Even though it put me on edge, I had to appreciate that my child faced the world with such boldness, that she saw goodness in everyone. She had such a sincere love for people that she couldn’t help but spread it.
And the miracle? People responded. Hardened New Yorkers softened when she looked at them with those big eyes and that sweet smile. They constantly commented on how adorable she was, and everywhere we went, a trail of smiles followed.
Recently I’ve been studying about happiness and the power of a smile. It is a scientific truth that smiles pass from person to person, just like yawns. They’re contagious. In one experiment I watched, a well-timed smile even prompted the recipients to stop and help someone who’d dropped some books. Can you imagine that? A smile inciting the inherent goodness in people?
According to Gary L. Wenk, a Ph.D. and Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience, a smile (fake or real), pulls on the thin bones in the face and causes increased blood flow through the frontal lobes of the brain. When that happens, the body releases an increase of dopamine—which is a naturally occurring “happy drug.”
Believe it or not, you are dosing yourself with happiness every time you smile—and inspiring others to do the same. Maybe that’s the real secret behind children being so much happier than adults. They smile more.
Seems like my daughter had life all figured out at the age of one. Guess I should try to be more like her, eh? Would you like to try the experiment with me? Let’s see if we can’t make the world a better place, one “cheese” at a time.