For quite some time now, we have understood that connection is the opposite of addiction. Meaning that when people feel connected socially, they may be less likely to die from the disease of addiction or alcoholism and more likely to recover. It’s as simple as this: when people are socially connected and have stable and supportive relationships, they are more likely to make healthy choices and have better mental and physical health outcomes. They are also better able to cope with hard times, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Additionally, when people with addiction or alcoholism, or to put it more simply, substance use disorder (SUD) are involved in some type of recovery group or fellowship, the more likely they are to receive the following life-changing promises:
- Learn and know a new freedom and a new happiness
- They will learn not to regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it
- They will comprehend the word serenity and will know true peace
- No matter how far down the scale they go, they will be able to use their own experience to help and benefit others
- The feeling of uselessness and self-pity most addicts feel will disappear
- Their constant interest in themselves and selfish things will be minimized, and they will gain interest in their fellows
- Self-seeking will also slip away
- Their whole attitude and outlook upon life will change
- Their fears of being around people and of economic insecurity will leave them
- As time goes on, they will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle them
- They will suddenly realize that some “outside force” is doing for them what they could not do for themselves
Some people feel that these are extravagant promises, but the folks in these recovery groups think not as these promises are being fulfilled among them every day-sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They have found that they will always materialize if they work for them, and apply the simple steps suggested.
When these promises are fulfilled, these recovered human beings can laugh, smile, and be useful again. They are not a glum lot; in fact, they are very busy planning sober parties, events, and functions that bring them so much joy they could never find in the bottle or a pill. They are never alone again and enjoy being helpful to each other as well as in all their affairs.
They found that by smiling and being welcoming, they are better suited to help the “newcomer” feel comfortable and at ease. They remember feeling that same way when they first arrived.
Let’s discuss more about the psychology of smiling and friendship.
How does smiling build friendships?
We know by pure experience that smiles have a contagious effect. When we see someone else smile, we tend to smile as well. But more significantly, smiling has the power to change your mood and of those around you. Consider this example: What do we do when seeing a person we like, a baby laughing, or a cute animal? We smile, right? Not only that, but most of us tend to also feel good from the euphoric power of a smile.
Smiling builds friendships. Studies have shown that people who smile more are happier and healthier than those who smile less. Smiling is the most fundamental way to show our good intentions to others, especially when we meet them for the first time or are in a stressful situation. People will feel more at ease with you if you smile, even during job interviews!
Smiling also helps us make new friends. How? By sending out positive vibes and creating an agreeable atmosphere. Smiling is contagious; remember that. People will automatically feel at ease with you when you smile at them for no particular reason. If we treat others how we want to be treated, we’ll make lots of friends and make our world a happier place to be.
Remember, smiles are a universal symbol, a language that conveys warmth and kindness across cultures and languages, much like love, laughter, and a gentle touch. These are the languages of the heart.
How does smiling make others happy?
First and foremost, we need to remember that we are in charge of no one’s happiness but our own. However, when you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins come into play, too. The endorphins act as a mild pain reliever, whereas serotonin is an antidepressant. Thus, you are more pleasant to be around for others.
Smiling can make others happy by being positive and making them feel good. It shows others that you are content with life, making them feel the same around you. Smiling at others is a sign of wanting to talk to someone and introduce yourself, and it shakes people out of their shells and allows them the chance to do the same.
People who smile are considered attractive and more sociable than those who don’t often smile. Smiles can brighten up a face and make someone look more attractive (at least in the eyes of others) and more approachable at the same time.
How does a smile affect others?
Other than smiling being contagious, what are the other positive facts about smiling?
First, research shows a positive link between smiling and good health. Humans are naturally attracted to people who smile and tend to use that to draw people to us. Smiling can be a natural antidepressant that activates neural messaging in our brains.
In addition, the act of smiling tends to boost your health because it kick-starts your immune system to function more effectively and then makes you more relaxed by releasing neurotransmitters. Smiling at another person can make that person feel rewarded. It can also create happiness and calmness.
Another emotion triggered by a smile is fulfillment and contentment, which then generates other positive sensations, which in turn produces many other positive effects on our minds and bodies. Let’s look at those positive effects.
Smiling helps our bodies release cortisol and endorphins, which provide numerous health benefits, including reducing blood pressure. In addition, increased endorphins reduce pain and stress, and strengthen our immune system.
Research also shows that smiling helps prevent wrinkles by training the muscles around the lips, mouth, and cheek areas to avoid sagging prematurely. Even more reason for me to smile as I slide into middle age!
Importance of social connection for mental health
In conclusion, social connection and smiling are crucial in maintaining good mental health and living a life of purpose. Building friendships through genuine smiles can create cheerful and agreeable atmospheres, making others feel safe, loved, and at ease.