Why Should I Smile When I Hurt Inside?

I tried my best to get through everyday activities after my husband left my daughter and me. Going to church was difficult as everyone wanted to smile and hug while I felt dead inside. Seeing my joyful friends was like a movie in slow motion as I watched from the outside looking in. I remembered just a few months before when I was a part of their joy. Now I wondered, “why should I smile when I hurt inside?”

Your circumstances may be different, yet you may be asking the same question. Or maybe you are wondering:

  • What is a good reason to smile?
  • The importance of smiling?
  • Why is smiling good for you?
  • Are there health benefits of smiling?
  • Are there Bible verses about smilling?

We will talk about these questions and more.

Why should I smile? What happens next?

Is smiling is good for you? The answer is a resounding “YES”. There are technical explanations but we will keep it simple here. The muscles of our face cause changes in the brain when we smile.

How smiling affects the brain

It is as if there is a direct connection between the face and the brain. When we smile, chemicals are released into the brain. These include:

  • neuropeptides
  • endorphins
  • dopamine
  • serotonin

Neuropeptides help fight stress in our bodies. Endorphins act as mild pain relievers. Serotonin acts as a natural antidepressant. In fact, low levels of serotonin are associated with depression. Dopamine is a mood regulator among other things.

It is easy to see why these chemicals are sometimes called “happy hormones”. When they are produced as a response to a smile, we experience a sense of well-being and happiness. The more we smile, the longer we experience these feelings.

How smiling affects your health

Smiling produces many health benefits. The “happy hormones” produced in the brain affect other parts of the body. Stress is a major factor in the cause of many diseases as it causes inflammation throughout the body. Smiling helps us by:

  • reducing stress
  • improving heart health
  • lowering blood pressure
  • boosting the immune system
  • reducing cortisol in the body

The great thing is that smiling is free! While medical treatment is often needed in health disorders, smiling can help augment treatment. It has long been recognized that smiling and laughing can shorten the need for medical interventions.

Not only does smiling improve our health, it also makes us more attractive. This is just one more of the many benefits of smiling.

Practice smiling

In clinical studies, researchers gave participants a simple exercise that replicated smiling. Each person was instructed to hold a pen between their teeth and not let their upper lips touch their lower lips. This activated the smile muscles regardless of how they were feeling. The results were that the participants felt happier. So even fake smiles bring positive results.

How smiling affects those around you

When I was growing up, there was a little song that we sang that went like this:

“Smile awhile and give your face a rest. Raise your hands to the one you love the best. Then shake hands with one nearby, and greet them with a smile.” (Author unknown)

Smiling is contagious. In studies where they tried to get people to frown, participants could not comply. They smiled automatically as a response to photos of smiling individuals.

I have long enjoyed “people watching”. When one person smiles, most everyone making eye contact smiles in return. This simple gesture makes other people feel comfortable in your presence, as well as making them feel accepted. A smile not only will improve your day, but it will also improve theirs.

Bible verses about why I should smile

Probably one of the most well-known Bible verses about smiling is found in Proverbs 17:22.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dies up the bones.” ESV

It has only been in the last century that science has recognized the importance of smiling. However, Scripture has been telling us all along about the benefits. Other verses that talk about smiling are:

  • “For everything there is a season … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4
  • Eat your bread with joy, and drink you wine with a merry heart.” Ecclesiastes 9:7
  • “For the one who pleases Him, God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy.” Ecclesiastes 2:26
  • “The hope of the righteous brings joy …” Proverbs 10:26
  • Delight yourself in the Lord.” Psalm 37:4
  • “I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices.” Psalm 16:8-9

These are just a sampling of the Bible verses about smiling. We have reasons to smile even when we don’t feel like it. God is always faithful to us. Regardless of our circumstances, He will never leave us. He promises to help us in the storms of life, bringing something good from them.

Why should I smile when it hurts inside?

Not only is smiling good for us physically, but we can actually change our mood by simply smiling. I have put this to the test on days when I felt neither sadness nor happiness. I would look in the mirror and just smile. Yes, these were fake smiles. I instantly felt a sense of well-being and joy. Just from a fake smile.

Smiling is also an affirmation of our trust in God. It is a way to say “thank you” for His many gifts. His plans for us are good whether we can see it yet or not. We really have no excuse not to smile, even if it is for the benefit of others and as a gift to our creator. Sometimes we have to practice to make perfect. Sometimes we have to fake it until we make it.

Final thoughts about smiling

While smiling has many benefits for our emotional and physical health, it is not totally about us. In fact, as Christians, we are to live our lives as unto the LORD. Our smiles are a gift to others, and to God our creator.

As scripture says, there are times when laughter and fake smiles are not appropriate. But when possible, we should consider our smiles an act of obedience, worship, and gratitude. It is part of being conformed to the image of Christ, who came not to be served but to serve. Show someone you care about them with the gift of a smile. Then thank God that it is in your power to do this act of service.

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