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Holten: An easy way to live longer

If I told you to do something simple that would ultimately make you live longer, would you do it?

No, it’s not jogging, or eating better or taking a miracle pill or drinking less, or even getting more sleep. It’s easier than that.

0 Talk about it

What could be easier than that?

If you do it, it will help your immune system work better and prevent the flu, colds and other diseases because, let’s face it, your best friend in life is your immune system, the guardian of your gate, and your defender against debility, decrepitude and disease.

In addition, doing this will make you more relaxed and your blood pressure will be reduced dramatically. In fact, you should go buy a blood pressure monitor, sit for a few minutes, take a reading, do what I am suggesting that you do and then take another reading. Trust me. You’ll notice a remarkable difference.

At the same time, it’s like taking a natural drug because it releases endorphins, natural pain killers and serotonin, and together those three will make you feel good.

Plus, if you’re feeling down, it’ll change your mood for the better, prevent you from looking worn down and overwhelmed, reduce stress, help you to be in a better position to take action and even make you appear younger.

In fact, it’ll also make you look more confident, which will improve your chances of being promoted, and increase your chances of being approached by other people, including members of the opposite sex.

What is this miracle thing?

It is smiling.

Each time you do it, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain because the act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness.

It reminds me of a story I once heard about Mary, an unhappy woman who was sitting at a bus stop. Next to her sat Barry, a homeless guy with a big smile on his face.

“What are you smiling for?” Mary said to him.

“It’s what I do,” Barry said. “I sell smiles for a living.”

“Really,” Mary said, “I’m not interested.”

“Here,” Barry said, “have one for FREE.”

“No thank you,” Mary said.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Barry said. “I can’t take it back. You have to give it to someone.”

“What?” Mary asked.

“The smile,” he said, “you have to give it away or sell it, which should be easy to do because it apparently yours hasn’t been used very much anyway.”

“What do you mean by that?” Mary asked.

“You don’t smile very often, do you?” Barry said.

“Maybe not,” Mary said. “So what if I don’t?”

“You shouldn’t waste your smile,” Barry said, “because there are plenty of people who could use one.”

“Well,” Mary said, “they can have mine.”

“They can have what?” Barry asked.

“They can have my smile,” Mary said.

“But I don’t see one,” Barry said.

“Well,” Mary said, “I thought you just gave me one.”

“I tried,” Barry said, “but it didn’t stick. In fact, I think it bounced right off.”

“Fine,” Mary said, “What’s there to smile about anyway?”

“There are lots of things to smile about,” Barry said. “It’s a beautiful day outside; the buses are running on time and look at that flower over there. Now that would make anybody smile.”

“Leave me alone,” Mary said and then paused.

“So what’s the going rate on smiles these days?” she asked after a little bit.

“Oh, they’re very expensive,” Barry said. “You probably couldn’t afford one.

“Try me,” Mary said.

“It’ll cost you one smile,” Barry said. “That’s how much they cost. The price for a smile is exactly one smile. That’s the going rate.”

She thinks about it.

“Alright,” she said and smiled, “I’ll take one.”

“It was a pleasure doing business with you,” Barry said and left, and as he did so Dawn, a frazzled, busy businesswoman, sat down next to her.

“What’s with the smile?” Dawn asked.

“Well,” Mary said, “I sell them for a living.”

Holten is the manager of The Drill and the executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. Email him at