BOOMER TALK: The psychology of a smile

The Schubert Centre is the site of the fourth annual Spirit of Laughter Jan. 20

Carole Fawcett is a counsellor and clinical hypnotherapist in Vernon

Carole Fawcett is a counsellor and clinical hypnotherapist in Vernon

We read about it in quotes on social media, we hear about it from therapists, we see it in action and perhaps we practice it ourselves for that matter.  I’m talking about the power of a smile, or the power of positive psychology, or the power of laughter. It can be magical.

It sets the tone for the day. Have you ever come across someone early in the morning who passes on their good feelings with a smile? A few mornings each week, I drive through that well known Canadian icon on 25th Avenue to pick up my cup of java on the way to work.

Frequently, I am welcomed by the smiling face of Berle, who always has a positive and upbeat way of saying good morning. It is wonderful gift to pass on to others. A smile can create a positive psychological shift in someone’s morning. It is an empowering shift-gift, so thank you Berle for your positive energy.

Neurally speaking, we may have taken our own brain on a private journey.  Sometimes that journey is full of anxiety, or fear, or depression, or many other forms of psychological angst. Our repeated re-visiting of the journey has made a pattern of neural connections.

Much like a pathway in a forest, our thoughts have become well-worn and habituated.

We might become stuck there, fixated on our own unhappy thoughts until we come across someone or something that helps us to bump into a more positive state. That’s where people like Berle make a difference.

As a laughter teacher I tell people to, “fake it until you make it,” and I believe that for those of us who do not suffer from clinical issues, we can do that with our minds too. We can control the thoughts, we can disallow our brain to get on the train of negativity and then insist it gets onto a different train.

Smiling and laughing will change the chemistry within our brain by releasing happy hormones — serotonin, dopamine, endorphins  as well as boosting  neuropeptides (more feel good stuff in our brain). It helps to lower cortisol (aka stress) levels, assists  in creating higher pain thresholds, releases tension and encourages our entire body to relax with joy. Laughing helps our lungs to release residual air and brings in more oxygen, which is important for our blood as well.

It is absolutely brilliant for destressing at the workplace.

If this is something that resonates with you, join Jeunesse Pearson and me Jan. 20 at the Schubert Centre for the fourth annual Spirit of Laughter. A $5 minimum donation gets you in the door and you can spend the next two hours in joyfulness. There’s no registration. Just show up at 6:30 p.m. Bring water — it’s thirsty work.

Bring your friends, your colleagues, your relatives, your entire office and let’s fill the Schubert Centre with laughter it pours out the doors and down the streets of Vernon.

Make a note on your calendar and join us to learn how you can spread miles of smiles and help to boost another person’s psychological wellbeing.

Carole Fawcett is a counsellor and clinical hypnotherapist.