Smile! It can add (happy) years to your life.

Who knew? According to U.S. News Health, Smile and dental health are on top of the list of small habits you can incorporate in to your days to live a happy and longer life.

Smile

Smiling big and wide is related to living longer, according to research published in the journal Psychological Science. These researchers looked at professional baseball players’ photos and compared the lifespan of players with big smiles, no smiles and partial smiles.

Even after controlling for factors that are related to longevity such as education level and marital status, bigger smiles were still related to a longer life. The researchers found that the biggest smilers lived to an average of almost 80 years, while their straight-faced teammates reached only an average of 73 years. Why? In part because smiling builds your immune system and improves your mood and stress levels. And as an added bonus, smiling makes you more attractive.

Floss daily

Although there is some debate, it appears that daily flossing decreases low-grade inflammation, which increases the risk of early heart attack and stroke. Flossing also reduces gingivitis (a gum disease that causes irritation, redness and swelling in the part of your gum around the base of your teeth) compared to brushing your teeth alone, according to a review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. That’s probably because flossing not only gets rid of food trapped between your teeth, but it also removes the bacteria that forms before it has a chance to harden into plaque – something your toothbrush cannot do.

The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day to get rid of plaque in areas between the teeth that are difficult or impossible to reach with a toothbrush. As long as you floss once a day, it doesn’t matter when. Unfortunately, only 3 out of 10 Americans floss at least once a day, and over 32 percent never floss, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Improve your posture

Turns out that mom and dad were right: Sitting up straight is important. Your body is designed so that your heart and lungs work better when you have good posture since it reduces the excessive force that muscles and joints need to absorb. A long-term University of London study of about 4,000 men found that those who lost height as they aged – in other words, their posture worsened over time – were more likely to die prematurely from cardiovascular or respiratory conditions than their counterparts who maintained good posture. And, slouchier postures cause neck and back pain and makes you look less confident and feel less competent.

To have good posture when sitting down, keep your chin parallel to the floor; your shoulders, hips and knees at even heights; and your knees and feet pointing straight ahead.

 

Wash your hands

Washing your hands is a simple way to longer life. In fact, hygiene is a main factor in why our life expectancy has almost doubled in the last 150 years. That’s because hand-washing kills bacteria and keeps us healthier. Improper hand-washing accounts for nearly half of all foodborne illness in the U.S. In one study, almost half of the participants had bacteria on their hands of potential – brace yourself – fecal origin. But rinsing with water cut that number in half, and adding soap left just 8 percent of people’s hands dirty.

Although two-thirds of adults typically wash their hands in a public restroom with soap and water, few people scrub for the recommended 20 seconds. To avoid being another dirty statistic, wet your hands under clean, running water and apply soap. Then, lather your hands – including the backs of your hands, between fingers and under nails – for at least 20 seconds. Rinse your hands with water and dry them using a towel or allow them to air dry.

 

Credits: U.S. News Health,  Heather Hausenblas

Confident, Smiling People Live…

… well, differently. While some people just have that “it factor.” You can certainly create you own “it factor” with a dazzling bright healthy smile.

Confident people command attention whenever they walk into a room. But the truth is, they weren’t born with a confident gene. Instead, their daily behaviors contribute to their self-assured personality.

That’s good news: It means anyone can adopt the habits confident people practice on a regular basis. Below are just some of the ways those with extra self-possession approach life differently than everyone else.

1. They’re more productive.

Confidence = hustle. Research suggests that confident people may be more productive because their can-do thoughts inspire real action. It’s no wonder confident people seem to own the office.

2. Their body language helps boost their confidence.

Studies show that how a person carries him or herself influences how he or she feels on the inside. A tall posture and even stretching can help people feel a surge of power — and confident people take advantage of those little adjustments.

3. They aren’t self-assured all the time.

All people have their flaws, even people with the “it factor.” The difference lies in recognizing those insecurities and carrying on with life despite them. Research shows self-acceptance is paramount to a happier life, but it’s a habit many people rarely practice. Confident people aren’t superhuman — they just accept their imperfections wholeheartedly and live a happy life regardless.

4. They actively pursue success.

“No” is simply not in a confident person’s vocabulary, at least when it comes to success. Confidence is crucial when pursuing a career, according to a study published in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology. The research found that more likely someone is able to picture themselves achieving their goal, the more likely they’re going to be able to do it, Fast Company reported.

5. They channel their inner celebrity.

A confident person’s mantra is “I am Beyonce.” OK, maybe that’s just this author’s, but regardless, there’s power in celebrity. Research published in the journal Personal Relationships found that when people wrote down qualities they shared with their favorite celebrities of the same gender, they felt much more compelled to become their best selves.

6. They stick to their convictions.

Confident people place trust in their own opinions — but not without listening to others, of course. As confidence coach Susie Moore explained in a HuffPost blog, confident people hear all sides of an argument, but ultimately, they stick to what they feel is best.

“Other people are well meaning and sometimes err on the side of caution,” she wrote. “Confident people listen to other people but do not let their difference of perspective take them off track.”

7. They don’t fear failure.

All people have their setbacks. Confidence isn’t doing everything right, it’s pushing on even after being wrong. And sometimes that can pay off in more than just confidence: Research suggests that people who appear more self-assured are also seem more intelligent.

8. They’re not afraid of being confident.

Confident individuals don’t shy away from asserting themselves, whether they’re actually feeling comfortable or just faking it until they make it. As singer Demi Lovato’s recent single so poignantly asks, “What’s wrong with being confident?”

The answer: Nothing at all.

I couldn’t agree more with Lindsay Holmes Deputy Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post .