Fitness Magazine

Santosha, Smiling and Longevity

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Ram
In my previous article regarding santosha, Santosha: Happiness and Longevity, I mentioned that discontentment and unhappiness arise when we get caught up in the materialistic world. If we are happy with our lifestyle and what we currently have, it will help us in the journey to absolute truth and the highest realization.

Santosha Anuttamah Sukha Labhah

From an attitude of contentment/true happiness (santosha), mental comfort, joy, and satisfaction (anuttamah sukha) are obtained. —Yoga Sutras, translated by Swami Jnaneshvara.

This observation was supported by a scientific study that showed that people who are contented are not only healthier but they may also live longer (see Santosha: Happiness and Longevity).
Santosha, Smiling and LongevityThere are several ways of expressing santosha or happiness. One visible way of showing that you are happy and contented is through a SMILE. Smiles can be warm, beautiful, welcoming, cute, innocent, charming or heart melting. A smile of any kind has the same positive effect: it brightens up the people surrounding the smiling person. Smile and notice that the people around smile with you. The world changes based on a person's perception and outlook, and having a smile on the face not only reveals the radiance of the person smiling but it also makes the individual a pleasurable person to be around.
A person with a smile not only mitigates the suffering around but also boosts up someone else's existence, even if it is for a fleeting moment. People tend to trust and cooperate more with individuals who sport a smile. Moreover, smiling is infectious; a smiling individual lightens up the room, change the moods of others, brings happiness along and attracts more people. Several scientific studies suggest that people who smile a lot are not only happy and contented, they are also more stable, happier in their marriages, have better cognitive skills and interpersonal skills. And now there’s an additional benefit that comes with a smile: it adds years to your life.
A study by researchers at Wayne State University concludes that a smile has an impact on aging and life expectancy. The wider you grin and the deeper you smile, the more likely you are to have a healthy aging and longer existence. For the study the researchers analyzed 230 pictures of major league baseball players who began their careers in professional baseball before 1950. The photos were enlarged and a rating of their smile intensity (big smile, partial smile, no smile) was noted. Researchers then ranked the players according to their smiles and laughter lines (length of the creases). The players smile ratings were compared with data from deaths that occurred from 2006 through 2009. The conclusions from the study:
  1. Players with big smiles (n=23) lived an average 79.9 years.
  2. Players with partial smiles (n=64) lived an average of 75 years. 
  3. Players with no smiles (n=63) lived an average of 72 years. 
The above results did not change when the researchers also corrected for other factors associated with longevity. Furthermore, the researchers also noted that the benefits did not extend to players who put out a false smile but only those who looked truly happy had the extra life expectancy.
One may wonder how the act of opening the lips wide and bringing on a smile triggers all of the above-mentioned benefits including longer lifespan? Studies have shown that a simple smile triggers several positive changes in the body. Smiling helps to boost the immune system, which provides resistance from many diseases. Smiling relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, triggers the release of endogenous pain killers and changes the mood attitude for the better, all of which help in graceful aging.
So how about bringing santosha in the form of a wide smile in your own lives as well? Smile as much as you can, even if you are not on camera!

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