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On my digital medical chart there is a photo of me so that nurses and doctors can easily identify who I am.  I chose to be photographed at the office of my oncology gynecologist with the biggest, open smile I can manage.  I look like I’m having a blast and I want you to join in on the fun.  Over the years the effect of that photograph has been noticeable and profound.  Clerks at the hospital registrar, nurses, PAs and doctors have commented on that photo.  They love it, and that is likely due to it being uncommon.  Most people posing for a cancer hospital ID photograph for their personal charts are probably not grinning from ear to ear.   I’ve noticed a more positive, happy tone from the nurses and doctors and my follow up visits are generally quite pleasant for all of us.   My radiation oncologist told me yesterday that my visit was a happy start to the day.

So activate yours and everyone around you’s brain happiness circuitry and smile.  Even when it hurts.

Neuroscience Says Doing This 1 Thing Makes You Just as Happy as Eating 2,000 Chocolate Bars

Smiling, as it turns out, has truly remarkable effects. First, doing it actually makes you feel good even if you’re not feeling good in the moment. A 2009 fMRI study out of Echnische Universität in Munich demonstrated conclusively that the brain’s happiness circuitry is activated when you smile (regardless of your current mood). If you’re down, smiling actually prompts your brain to produce feel-good hormones, giving credence to the adage, “fake it til you make it” when it comes to your state of mind.

Smiling is also a predictor of longevity. In a 2010 out of Wayne State University, researchers looked at Major League baseball card photos from 1952. They found that the span of a player’s smile actually predicted his lifespan — unsmiling players lived 72.9 years on average, while beaming players lived a full seven years longer.

Similarly, a 30-year longitudinal study out of UC Berkeley examined the smiles of students in an old yearbook, with almost spooky results. The width of students’ smiles turned out to be accurate predictors of how high their standardized tests of well-being and general happiness would be, how inspiring others would find them, even how fulfilling their marriages would end up. Those with the biggest smiles came up on top in all the rankings.

Finally, research demonstrates that when we smile, we look better to others. Not only are we perceived as more likable and courteous, but those who benefit from our sunny grins actually see us as more competent (something to keep in mind while giving presentations or interacting in the office).

Want to know where you stack up when it comes to smiling? Know this: under 14% of us smile fewer than 5 times a day (you probably don’t want to be in that group). Over 30% of us smile over 20 times a day. And there’s one population that absolutely dominates in the smile game, clocking in at as many as 400 smiles a day: children.


Here I go again sending readers away from this page and to another but this was such a good story not to share.

How the World’s Only Feudal Lord Outclassed the Nazis to Save Her People
Dame Sibyl Hathaway protected her people with the unlikeliest of weapons: Feudal etiquette, old-world manners, and a dollop of classic snobbery.

Btw, comments are closed except to a few regulars but you can join the spin-off forum at https://badmanners.createaforum.com/ and start a discussion.  Lots of old regulars from the original Ehell forum are there.

{ 1 comment }

Rude Anti-Vaxxers

Dear Etiquette Hell,

I am a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit of a large metropolitan hospital. We are not usually permitted to leave our allocated patient as they are usually too ill or have too many machines that need monitoring. So everyone who wants one can have a flu shot, the occupational health nurse comes around our ward with her trolley and gives us the shot right there so we don’t have to go downstairs to her office. I always want to have it as we are often exposed to the flu, especially from overseas people who end up in hospital.

So this year I had my shot as always, signed the consent form and got my lollipop (hey there has to be some perks!). I had a quick chat with the nurse and she was on her way. Now this day I was looking after an elderly man with multiple problems who had been in hospital for about two weeks. I had been talking with his daughter and she seemed quite nice.

However, after she saw me have the flu shot, she immediately asked why I had injected my body with poisons and didn’t I know those shots were filled with heavy metals? I simply said that I felt that it protected me from a dangerous and potentially lethal disease (the latest round of swine flu here killed two patients on our unit who were the same age as me). She then proceeded to go on a rant about how all western medicines were useless and how vaccines were giving children autism and diabetes. I assume she meant the journal article published in ‘The Lancet’ which was later retracted after the author was found to have falsified his results and the study was not valid in any way.

Even if your belief is that vaccines are poisonous, you should keep your opinion to yourself. As an adult I have the right to make choices about my health and my life. I don’t know what her answer would have been if I had said that I was going to get drunk that evening, because as an adult I can do that and it has been proven to be bad for your health, whereas I believe vaccines are effective and save lives. I also wonder if she hated ‘western’ medicine so much, why did she think it was ok for her father to be in the hospital? 0902-11