Sunday, June 10, 2012

The power of a smile--Kandy Shepherd

You probably know that smiling lifts your spirits by releasing feel-good hormones into your bloodstream. But did you know forcing a fake smile also has a similar effect?

I was told this by a migraine specialist when I sought treatment for debilitating migraines. He told me when I felt a headache coming on to make myself smile—even if that was the last thing I felt like doing. He explained that the very act of the muscles lifting into a smile triggered the brain to release endorphins and serotonin into the bloodstream which led to an easing of the headache.


Ultimately my migraines were treated with medication but the smile therapy still helps. Consequently, I find myself appreciating anything that makes me smile spontaneously rather than forcing an inane grin in front of the mirror!

Smiling isn’t just good for preventing headaches, of course. Experts say smiling makes you feel more relaxed and boosts your immune system. Smiling helps social interaction too. Different cultures may bow, shake hands, kiss or rub noses, but a smile is a human signal of good intent that crosses all cultural barriers.

What makes you smile? The antics of my animals often bring a smile to my face--dog, cats, horses, even the chickens. Babies and children (even teenagers!) make me smile. Comedians like Robin Williams are guaranteed to make me laugh and a good episode of a television show like The Big Bang Theory, Community or Mike and Molly can make me ROFLOL (roll on floor, laughing out loud.)

Books too, can bring a smile to my face, with authors like Jennifer Crusie and British chicklit author Jennifer Colgan coming to mind for laugh-out-loud humor.

When I started to write, I tried angst and drama but my characters just wouldn’t let me take them that seriously. When I got feedback from editors praising my “comedic voice” I realized angst might not be my forte. Readers too, responded to my lighter tone of voice. One reader tells me that when she feels down she rereads my contemporary romance Love is a Four-Legged Word to lift her spirits. Even Something About Joe, which deals with some serious family issues, also makes readers laugh.

I’m with Jane Austen when she said: “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.”

What brings a smile to your face? Humor is so subjective, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Leave a comment to win a free download of my e-book Something About Joe. Be sure to include your email address.

Something About Joe is available for just $0.99c at AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwords and other e-retailers.

Kandy Shepherd writes fun, feel-good fiction.


me123chan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
emaginette said...

My son also mention the fake smile having the same effect as a real one. I'm amazed how our body works sometimes. :-)

PJ said...

Kandy, what a wonderful blog! The first thing I notice about a person is their smile and you have a lovely one; very warm and welcoming.

I'm a very smiley person; always have been. It would be easier to list things that don't make me smile than those that do. Smiling really is my natural state and something I do most of the time I'm awake. It's just the way I am. ;-)

If I'm in a funk and need smile encouragement, I turn to one of the comfort reads that always bring a smile. Your LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD is in there. Also, Julie Garwood's SAVING GRACE. No surprise that there's a terrific canine character in that one too! :)

PJ said...

Oops! Forgot my email.

pjpuppymom (at) yahoo (dot) com

Pat Cochran said...

"These are a few of my favorite things:"

1. I'm smiling as I recall my favorite sight:
my grandchildren at play.

2. Another recent favorite: Youngest grandson
Jude getting a private lesson from sister Julia
on her "marching" French Horn, the mellophone/sp?

3. Puppies or kittens at play.

4. Honey's face

Thanks for migraine tip, I'll have to start
smiling when I first notice my "aura" because
the headache will soon be following!

Pat Cochran

Barbara E. said...

What brings a smile to my face? Babies, puppies and kittens, my son who is always funny, when people do something or say something nice to me for no reason, and reading a delightfully humorous story. I love the ones that make me laugh out loud, even if I get embarrassed when I'm in public. :D

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

Annie West said...


I really enjoyed your post. Thank you! So many things make me smile. At the moment, after our tide of wet weather, waking up to a clear blue sky makes me smile. Getting out for a walk, chatting with friends, being with family, watching kids or animals, or watching a feel good movie - most recently 'Salmon Fishing in Yemen'. I couldn't agree more about smiling making you feel better.

Cathy Brockman said...

I really sweet romance with two people helplessly in love. And like sarcastic wit.

erin said...

Thanks for a great post and giveaway!

Looking at my dogs and watching them play always brings a spontaneous smile to my face!


Kandy Shepherd said...

Watching cats play is a surefire thing to inspire a smile from me, too, me123. Especially kittens!

Kandy Shepherd said...

The way our body works really is incredible, isn't it, emaginette. I sometimes feel with all our wonderful scientists and doctors, we still know so little about how our bodies work. But they are amazing...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi PJ, how lovely to see you here! I'm so glad you enjoyed the blog. I remember your warm smile too!
I'm so glad to see that LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD (and, of course, Brutus!) can still bring a smile to your face. I must try SAVING GRACE--like you, I do enjoy a book with appealing doggy characters.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Just reading about your favorite things made me smile, Pat! You can't beat children and puppies and kittens for innocent--and sometimes unwitting--humor.
I hope the smiling tip works with your migraines. Migraine is such a dreadful affliction, isn't it?

Kandy Shepherd said...

Oh yes, Barbara E, isn't it embarrassing when you are reading an amusing book on a bus or a train or a waiting room and you can't help but laugh out loud. But so worth it!

Kandy Shepherd said...

So glad you enjoyed the post, Annie. You're right, just the sheer joy of being alive on a beautiful sunny day makes me smile too.
I also loved Salmon Fishing in the Yemen--such an odd name for such an entertaining movie. I smiled or laughed all the way through it!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Oh yes, Cathy, a romance with witty repartee and lashings of emotion makes me smile too!

Kandy Shepherd said...

I so agree, Erin, I think it is impossible not to smile at the sight of dogs romping and playing. They get so into it and do some innocently ridiculous things!