Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another Reason to Smile

Those of us who are sports fans have a big reason to smile this week: Major League Baseball is back! It's the beginning of a new season, a time when every fan still has hope that their favorite team can win the World Series. But there is yet another, more significant reason to smile (which has a connection to baseball as well): it might lengthen your lifespan.

"People who smile a lot are usually happier, have more stable personalities, more stable marriages, better cognitive skills and better interpersonal skills, according to research. Science has just uncovered another benefit of a happy face. People who have big smiles live longer.

"Researchers at Wayne State University used information from the Baseball Register to look at photos of 230 players who debuted in professional baseball before 1950. The players' photos were enlarged and a rating of their smile intensity was made (big smile, no smile, partial smile). The players' smile ratings were compared with data from deaths between 2006 and 2009.

"For those players who had died, the researchers found longevity ranged from an average of 72.9 years for players with no smiles (63 players), to 75 years for players with partial smiles (64 players) to 79.9 years for players with big smiles (23 players).

"This isn't a bunch of psycho- hooey, the authors said. Smiles reflect positive emotion, which has been linked to both physical and mental well-being."

At full disclosure, I'm not someone who puts much stock in university studies. For every study that claims to prove one thing, another usually comes out that disproves the original finding. I once heard someone say that there are only two kinds of studies: those that prove the obvious and those that are wrong. Nevertheless, this one seems to make sense. Just as smiling can improve a person's quality of life, it can also increase a person's quantity of life.

Ultimately, whether or not this study is accurate is beside the point. The most significant thing about this is the recognition of how important it is to act in a positive, happier fashion. One of the kindest things we can do - both for ourselves and those around us - is smile. Just think of the last time you visited someone who displayed a sincere smile upon your arrival. It can really lift your spirits. While the actual length of a person's life is up to God, how we act during our lives is up to us.

No comments:

Post a Comment