Smile, you might live longer

Published 12:20 am Sunday, March 28, 2010

I usually don’t watch the national news very much, but while I was waiting for the NCAA tournament games to start Friday evening, I found myself watching the last few minutes of the CBS Evening News.

In the last few minutes of the broadcast, the anchor mentioned a new study that had been done that showed people who smile in pictures live an average of five years longer than those who don’t.

Now what does this study have to do with sports? Well, this is where science and sports intersect.

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I looked up the study on the Internet and found that it was done by two professors at Wayne State University in Detroit.

The guinea pigs for the project were baseball players from the 1950s.

The professors looked at vintage photographs of 230 Major League Baseball players who played in the 1952 season.

The researchers classified the players as either not smiling, fake smiling or having genuine smiles.

They then looked up the life spans of the 184 players from that group who had already died.

The researchers found that the players who had genuine smiles lived an average of seven years longer than the players who didn’t smile and five years longer than those who put on a fake smile for the camera.

The professors concluded that people who smile genuinely in photographs “may be basically happier than those with less intense smiles,” making the making them more likely to experience the health benefits of happiness, which has been linked with lower levels of stress hormones and a protein implicated in heart disease.

I told my wife about this study and her response was something like, “That’s the dumbest study I’ve ever heard of.”

And I’m sure some of those reading this column are thinking the same thing.

But if you stop and think about it, the study does make sense and can teach us all a lesson or two.

Let’s face it, we all love happy people. And there’s no better way to show your happiness than to say cheese and smile for the camera.

If you will smile for a still photo, you’re likely to be smiling a lot for the people who meet you on the street, which is not only a plus for them, but a plus for you as well.

Happy people are not only easier to get along with, but they generally have less stress and a more fulfilling life.

Who wants to be a grouch or a sourpuss all the time? At least that’s the philosophy of life I try to go with.

There’s so much bad stuff going on in the world today, and there’s not a whole lot most of us can do about it.

So we might as well put on a nice smile and go through life with a cheerful attitude.

You never know, that smile you make in today’s photo might just pay some big dividends down the road.