“People want to know if smiling can help them overcome hardship in these tough economic times,” says Elan Sun Star, author of the new book, Smile! The Powerful Science of Smiling.
A smile, says this world-famous photographer, carries the ability to transform one’s own health, ignite a smile in others, and ultimately transform the world for good. With anecdotes, science and a sprinkling of history, Smile! unfolds the story of decades of research of the potential effect of this one simple facial gesture.
Four years of research for the book led him through scientific, psychological, and spiritual realms to synthesize an engaging portrait of the simple, yet powerful, impact of the human smile.
The people interviewed for this book know intimately the power and language of the smile. Their findings indicate that, with this one universally understood gesture, we can dramatically affect our own lives and the world around us.
“Perhaps this simple act has a more profound impact than anything else we could possibly do to save the world,” says Star.
Smile! is not limited to the speculative. The research and voices in this inspiring book come from philosophers, military commanders, research scientists and psychologists, medical authorities, experts in international diplomacy, dentists, and social scientists. All of these people are experts in their own right, each with a different story to tell, each painting a small part of this broad portrait that provides ample evidence that the smile can be your best friend, even, and most especially, in hard times.
Everyone has seen how an infant responds to a smile. The response is instinctive. Dr. David Chamberlain studied babies beginning at conception, and studied brain activity in infants. Those early smiles are not all “gas,” as popularly reported. Smile centers in the brain are active from a very early prenatal stage of development, making the smile an important part of learning how to cope with the world, even before we see our first glimpse of daylight.
Most people are familiar with the work of Dr. Norman Cousins, who cured his own cancer by watching funny movies and having a good laugh. The body has its own biochemical responses to laughter that make it good medicine. But further, even a fake smile can lead to real happiness. Studies of brain waves have revealed that faking a real smile was sufficient to activate the pleasure centers in the brain.
In science, the more simple a theory, the more elegant and potentially universal a solution it represents. With the same skills he impresses onto film, the author lists examples of the smile’s ability to transform our daily lives at various levels—biochemical, psychological, social (relationships), and even political, as demonstrated by an American military commander chosen to meet face to face with a stoic North Korean dictator in arms control talks.
Another true life story comes from Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Hughes, who ordered his troops in Iraq to put down their weapons and use a smile to defuse a potentially dangerous encounter with an angry throng of Iraqis.
As a photographer of thousands of stunningly beautiful magazine covers, Star possesses a keen sense of awareness that is captured in his imagery, combining color, a sense of movement and positive emotions. (You may have seen his images appearing on some of the pages of the Good News Network.)
Having studied the field of mind/body/spirit as well as complementary medicine for 40 years while traveling around the globe to many of the top health clinics during photo shoots, Star has accrued a wealth of health-related knowledge. His philosophy about the human smile includes the role smiling can play in the creation of world peace, as well as its role in creating inner harmony, optimum health, and peak psychological states.
So, start smiling, even if you have to start by practicing your smile in a mirror. The smile will soon become habitual, and will begin attracting other smiles to you.
“Go forth and smile. Heal yourself, and believe that you can help bring a sense of wellness and satisfaction to the world.”
Visit www.smilesbook.com to see more research, photos and info.
(All photos by Elan Sun Star)