I'm always looking for simple life-improvement techniques that can be done anywhere at anytime, and this has got to be my favorite: Smiling.

It takes little effort (requires fewer muscles than frowning), has wonderful health benefits, keeps things interesting, and entertains your friends. That would be my definition of a panacea!

Much research has been done on smiling, and it has been found that this simple act raises the endorphin level in the body by 27%, calms the parasympathetic system (involuntary muscles), stimulates the immune system, and lowers blood pressure. Add laughing to that, and, well, it's off the charts for health benefits.

Smiling is also contagious--you smile and others tend to smile, giving them health benefits, too!

Smiling can even affect the way one person is received by another over the phone. A study, conducted by Amy Drahota, examined how smiling affects how people speak and are heard. From her research, she ascertained that "When we listen to people speaking, we may be picking up on all sorts of cues, even unconsciously, which help us to interpret the speaker." A person who is smiling while they talk can be sensed by the listener, even though they are hidden from view. And, the smiling increases the endorphin levels in the listener!

In Taoist meditation practices developed over thousands of years, one primary technique is the "Inner Smile." Life force, chi, or prana, is considered to flow better when the body is smiling. In fact, one practice is to smile at your organs--smile at the thymus gland and have it smile back, smile at the heart, smile at the lungs, the stomach, the intestines. By doing this, you are opening the channels of chi to that organ or organs. In Taoist meditation, the Inner Smile is the first act before doing other chi-moving exercises. Any part of the body in discomfort can be benefited by this practice. So as the old adage says, "Smile and the world smiles with you!"

Vibrant Living Tip: Use Beryl Gem Elixir to aid in forgiveness and clarity.

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