The Health Benefits of Smiling!

443Celeste Yarnall  by AM Hi res 231

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
~ Mother Teresa

It’s so easy in our everyday lives to become consumed by all all the things we have to do, as well as the financial pressures we must endure when money is tight. Feeling down and negative about it all, from time to time strikes all of us, but even when you feel your own stress building up inside you, did you know that perhaps the very best thing you can do is put on a happy face? Yes, even if it means you have to force a phoney smile.

“Peace begins with a smile.”
~ Mother Teresa

It has been said that a photograph or the on camera face of a wholesome female model or actress (perhaps actor), looking right into the camera induces people to buy products–so we know advertisers know the power of a smile! We all inherently know the power of a smile too! We feel good whilst smiling and we feel good when we are smiled at.

Recently however, we find that the simple, natural act of smiling actually helps our health by lowering our heart rate and relieving our stress levels.

An interesting study, took place at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, required participants to hold a variety of facial expressions while enduring stress-provoking situations. The researchers recruited 169 college-age volunteers, of whom half were men and half were women. They were provided with chopsticks and taught to hold them in their mouths while making certain facial expressions. They produced a neutral look, a smile that only involved the mouth, and a Duchenne smile, which is more of a true smile that requires activity in muscles of both the mouth and the eyes. To half of the subjects, the suggestion was made that the Duchnenne smile was to be made like a smile. The other half was simply directed on the muscular action needed.

The entire group of participants were told they would be multi-tasking while holding the chopsticks in their mouths and keeping a particular expression on their faces. The tasks they needed to perform were designed to be difficult and therefore heighten their stress levels. For instance, the volunteers were made to trace a star shape using their non-dominant hand working off a mirror reflection or plunging a hand into ice water (not something we usually would want to smile about).

The researchers monitored the heart rates of the subjects both during and after the tasks. The smilers had lower heart rates than those wearing neutral expressions. The greatest difference was found in those who executed a Duchenne smile that is most similar to a true smile. However, even the participants who formed a smile with their mouths only had lower heart rates than those keeping a neutral face, suggesting that any sort of grin–even a completely fake smile–can be beneficial.

Researchers know today that we produce greater quantities of both adrenaline and cortisol when undergoing stress. This “fight or flight” or as I add even faint reaction, increases the heart rate and affects blood flow to ensure the vital organs of the core of the body are receiving their fair share at the expense of the extremities. Therefore, having a lower heart rate means we are not feeling or reacting to the stress nearly as much.

According to the results of this study, smiling would appear to have some sort of calming effect. In fact, blood pressure rates were also noted to be lower in many of the smiling volunteers, but not all. Since the same hormones in the body that affect heart rate also increase blood pressure, it’s interesting that those results were not as consistent. The difference could possibly be due to high blood pressure being a long-term condition that develops over time and is affected by overeating and other poor health habits, whereas a quickened heart rate is generally short term. Then again, in some people the higher blood pressure could have been the result of hardened arteries, which would not have changed no matter how much one smiled.

Earlier research about smiling has produced mixed results. A 2011 study at Michigan State University in East Lansing found that people who had to be polite all day at work and produce fake smiles ended up with overall worse moods than others. Yet, when those same subjects were told to conjure their smiles based on happy thoughts, both their moods and their productivity levels increased.

Most of us have heard that when we smile we release a chemical message deep within our brain known as an Endorphin. Once released these Endorphins travel down our spine sending feel good messages throughout the rest of our body.

These Endorphins are known to be strong enough to reduce symptoms of physical, or emotional pain, as they
envelop us in a nice warm feeling of well being. They are a chemical of approximately the same strength as another pharmaceutical chemical that we all know of known as Morphine.

Endorphins have that wonderful ability to make us feel happy, and whenever we all smile, we release them. So even if you are not happy when you begin to smile, you will be afterwards, and the more often that you smile then the happier you will feel!

I think, since it costs us nothing to smile and I know I feel better when I do then why not smile as often as possible. If the first thing we would do when faced with stressful people or situations was smile we might unnerve them to such a degree that we neutralize the stressful event right in its tracks. This might even turn into a giggle or full on laugh fest.

It’s nice to see that this has been the subject of scientific scrutiny but, If you think about it, there really is no downside to smiling. It’s time to be proud of our laugh lines which I think are far better than frown lines. And besides stress is very dangerous for all of us: to our mental status, physical health, and overall well-being, it even upsets our companion animals, so for their sake, smile!

A smile may not be a ‘cure all’ but it certainly seems to help us get through all that is going on in the world, or even some of the problems in our own life. It would truly be great if we could truly lower or normalize our heart rate and stress level even if just by a tiny bit; it’s certainly a start.

The act of smiling at or with the one you love can keep you both in the most healthful stage of all known as the honeymoon stage of a loving relationship!


I’ll take smiling over taking blood pressure or anti-anxiety medication or developing a stress-induced ailment. It’s worth remembering that smiling is contagious and you have the power to make other people smile, and you can do this by simply passing your smile on to others.

Let’s starting spreading smiles because they might just turn to all out laughter, just like what happened to these folks on a German train before everyone knew it, everyone was laughing!

It all starts with a smile!

Photo’s of Celeste Yarnall and Nazim Artist by Alan Mercer


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The Art of Wellness ~ Butterfly Nebula and Power Animals

The Art of Wellness: Power Animals

by Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D

“Quantum Leap ~ Puma” Oil on Canvas, by Nazim Artist

What if art were not just something to look at but could offer the viewer a healthful experience? What if you could decorate your home with art work that could also clean the ambient air in your home or office environment of mold, fungus, odors and bacteria? Is is possible to combine a visual art with a true holistic experience? The answer is yes as these concepts and more have been created by a noted British artist who has developed a never been done before glazing process that actually offers these qualities to those who live with his art.

The Los Angeles exhibition, entitled Power Animals, by Nazim M. Nazim, the artist who has created this revolutionary concept, which opened at a celebratory reception which was held on September 2nd between was a smash. The exhibition as been on going ever since and will be coming to a close on June 18, 2012. The art exhibition is open to the public daily at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, which is located on the grounds of the Barnsdall Art Park, one of Los Angeles’ most beautiful art complexes. It sits on 11 acres in the Los Feliz/Hollywood area, in Southern California.

If you are not familiar with Barnsdall, this site was deeded to the city of Los Angeles in 1927 as a cultural art center. Today, it is home to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House, the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Art Center, Junior Art Center, and Barnsdall Gallery Theatre where Nazim’s magnificent art is installed on both levels.

Barnsdall Art Park is operated jointly by the City of Los Angeles’ Recreation and Parks Department, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Department of General Services. The Theatre hosts myriad of cultural art events almost daily!

Nazim’s holistically glazed paintings are for a limited time still on view in the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre. They are truly in a class by themselves because of their originality and power but also because of this unique glazing process which is a first in the world of contemporary art. The age old adage, “Beauty is as beauty does” truly applies to these works of art.

Nazim’s paintings offer not just a visual experience to the viewer, but also a sensory vibration that alters the frequency around the paintings. This occurs because after Nazim’s application of his traditional art materials such as oils and acrylics, he includes a natural, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, GREEN compound of minerals in his final glaze. This glazing technique as the last step, on each painting, produces a continuous flow of far infra red (FIR) and healthy air anions or negatively charged ions (negative in this context produces a positive health benefit).

These negative ions or anions as they are called, do indeed, actually clean the air of mold, pollen, fungi, bacteria, and odors. The anions may also help improve the viewers concentration and awareness plus create a feeling of well being which has been likened to stepping outside after a thunderstorm when the air is clean and fresh — much like being near the ocean or walking in a rain forest.

Nazim’s passion for a healthy life style including, organic raw foods, exercise and multiple spiritual practices unites his love of contemporary art with his holistic ‘Art of Wellness,’ paradigm. This new technology in painting resonates between the sensory worlds of art and holistic healing on a mind, body, spirit level.

Viewers of Nazim’s art might just find themselves transformed visually by these energized artworks, be it in a gallery, office or in a private home.

Drawing and painting have always been the fundamental elements to this London born artist. Nazim’s artistic vision throughout the years has been inspired by an array of themes that vary according to the compulsion driving him to create a given piece of art work.

Nazim is an artist whose work is informed by the techniques of the old masters such as; Michelangelo, Rodin and Rubens. He conducts ongoing research within major museums and art galleries all over the world including: London’s Tate, National Galleries, British and Victoria and Albert Museums, Paris’ The Louvre, Muse D’Orsay, Muse Rodin, New York’s Metropolitan, Whitney, Guggenheim and Los Angeles’ LACMA and Getty Museums.

Nazim was awarded AIR status by the Florence Trust in 1995. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree with Distinction from Winchester School of Art in 1983-86. His earliest training was in 1981-82, completing a foundation course in Art and Design at Middlesex Polytechnic, London, UK. One of his original painting is included the current exhibtion of Pop Art at the Zimmer Children’s Museum at 6505 Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles, Proceeds from the sale of all art works in this exhibition go to the Zimmer. Nazim donates often to worthy causes around the world to help fund raising efforts and create awareness for charities.

Among the many themes which appeal to Nazim are myth, mysticism, and metaphysics which resonate with the subject matter of choice where Nazim can explore the visual harmonics which he as an artist can observe or imagine. His work visually captures the spirit and energy of the late 20th and early 21st century, by painting such subjects as mythology, wildlife, sports and performing arts. In the Nature Series, the Power Animals seem to have a human essence (a nod to Shamanic ritual and the poetic visions of such romantic mystics as Rumi, William Blake, Rilke, Octavio Paz and Ted Hughes). This unique glazing process seems to bring the subject matter even more to life and needs to be experienced in person to truly appreciate its unique holistic qualities.

Nazim is available for private and public commission, as well as murals for homes, offices and public spaces. He is also a highly skilled graphic artist and can create very exciting logo’s that propel your business vision uniquely. Contact Nazim by email at

By Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D and Nazim Artist ~ Holistic Painter ~

Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D is an author, blogger, lecturer and holistic practitioner. Through her company she consults with animal companions and specializes in the species specific, raw carnivore diet, clinical/holistic nutrition for people and pets and EFT Tapping solutions. Celeste is a, Reiki Master and author of 4 books. She and her husband, Nazim Nazim http://www.Nazim Artist, live in Los Angeles, CA with their 3 Tonkinese cats!

Note: The “Power Animals” Art Exhibition at Barnsdall Art Center, Gallery Theatre is free for all those who will be in the Los Angeles area prior to June 18, 2012 when the show closes.