We might not often consider the impact that smiling has on our well-being, but consider this British research: investigators studying the brains of people smiling have discovered that smiling stimulates pleasure centers in the brain in such an intense way that one would have to consume 2000 pounds of chocolate to stimulate the pleasure centers in a similar way.

I’ve been smiling all morning just thinking about it. But even more important perhaps, is that by looking at the smiles of high school students in their high school yearbooks, researchers could even predict the length of their lives.

At the core of Chinese medicine, is the goal of a human being living in a state of joy. Of course this does not mean that emotions don’t come and go, they do, just like the weather. It’s not sunny everyday, but I know that if I had the master sun switch, I might set the dial to “San Diego.” And that is what is looks like smiling frequently does…it sets your inner emotional thermostat from Seattle to San Diego.

Now, I am a firm believer in using foods, superfoods and herbs to alter my state and enhance my mood. As you know, my organic matcha tea company, Living Qi, was created because matcha is so powerful at helping someone create their mood, and shift from negativity and stress to positivity and relaxation. Matcha tea has tremendous health benefits, especially organic matcha tea, that include inducing relaxation and lowering blood pressure.

Nevertheless, knowing that smiling can induce such tremendous physiological changes is heartening. Hopefully, research will soon investigate what tai chi masters and qigong practitioners have said for centuries…that the inner smile is just as powerful as the outer one.

To see the video of Ron Gutman presenting the research on “The Power of Smiling” at the TED conferences, go here.