The Power of a Smile


You’re feeling blue and stressed and, my all-time favorite, stuck in endless traffic, when all of a sudden a smiley face crosses your path – whether in the form of a bumper sticker or an actual smile from a tired face – and your mood miraculously shifts. There’s actually science behind that.

Get this: Activated neurons in the brain upon seeing a smile, especially from a child or a loved one, gives you stimulation equivalent to eating 2,000 chocolate bars.

Smiling can even make you healthier. When you smile, endorphins and serotonin – the happy hormones – are released, lowering your blood pressure and boosting the immune system along the way.

When you smile, you’re more attractive. And it’s wonderfully contagious.

When you smile or laugh to someone’s face (s)he automatically smiles back, owing to the mirror neurons in our brains that analyze facial expressions and allow us to interact and socialize. And if you don’t smile back, something is seriously wrong. You’ve been warned.

In 2012, the UN declared today, Mar. 20, the International Day of Happiness. A day dedicated to spreading awareness about the power of a smile and that – in the pursuit of happiness that man has always sought – the little things have the greatest of effects.

You’re actually helping yourself when, for instance, you join a charitable organization to help the less fortunate and paint some smiles on their faces or by doing so through your day job. Even by just smiling at strangers, perhaps you help them realize that there is still good out there and, when they reciprocate, you feel good about yourself, too.

I totally understand how we’ve turned into a society of fearful strangers, but isn’t it time to change?

Here in Egypt, we’re famous for our sense of humor, among other disturbing things, and that’s what makes us withstand all the hardships we’ve been facing lately.

As long as we have the ability to smile, appreciate a good joke and make others smile along the way, I think we will prevail.


(Hadwa Shamel)
Double rainbow over Cairo (Hadwa Shamel)

Last week, I was having lunch with a friend, when all of a sudden it started drizzling right in front of a setting sun. Naturally, a double rainbow graced the skies. Not a typical scene in old Cairo. Nonetheless, people started cheering – me included – smiling, jumping around, laughing and inviting others to come witness the beauty in the sky.

In that moment, around 100 strangers congregated together simply for happiness. Such a great feeling to connect. That was truly a #happinessday.


WE SAID THIS: Happy Happy Day from the Empire!