Let’s start a neuropeptides (smile) movement

During the recent few days of monsoon, I decided I should hang up my Morton Salt yellow raincoat, let the weeds grow and instead write a few overdue thank-you notes.

I retrieved my grocery-sack brown notecards imprinted with the “thank you” in a sweeping cursive script and sat down to do lots of thanking. Next to my trusty retractable needle point TUL gel pens lay my botanical art USPS Forever stamps. But of course, there is the challenge of going on a search for the addresses.

I wrote a few heartfelt overdue notes to my friends, family and some new acquaintances. But then, as the rained continued to pour, I began to think of a few near-misses that brought a big smile to my face.

I was leaving Marsh with my groceries in hand, when I walked by a father and grown son who were drooling over a shiny apple-red Ferrari in the parking lot. The Ferrari-owner, we’ll just call him Ferrari Frank, was answering all varieties of automobile enthusiast questions.

After F.F. pulled away, I told the two automobile aficionados that they looked like two little boys in a candy shop, whereupon the father (a local police officer, I think) noted with a gigantic smile: “It was too tempting to just pass by.”

As I unintentionally followed the Ferrari, (I promise it was only because he was in front of me and going the same direction for much of my journey home,) I found myself smiling. Beautiful things bring that response. So thank you, Ferrari Frank.

Psychology Today reported how smiling affects your brain.

“Each time you smile you throw a feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress.

Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed or excited. The feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well. This not only relaxes your body, but it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.”

So technically when I watched my 25-year-old daughter carefully help her youngest cousins use sparklers for the first time — their smiles released neuropeptides, benefiting their health and happiness — and mine.

Johnson County, lets start a movement to release thousands of neuropeptides — all with a simple smile.