A Smile Matters
A smile is a powerful expression of how you feel and a positive tool in how you can make others feel. Smiling is contagious and has been scientifically proven to have many psychological benefits, one of them being an instant mood booster.
As a Psychology major, I’ve learned many things about the human mind and our behavior, one of them being how much a smile matters.
Here’s a quick read about the power of a smile, enjoy!
Smiling = Happy Brain
When you smile, a signal is sent to your brain letting it know you’re happy.
“When our brains feel happy, endorphins are produced and neuronal signals are transmitted to your facial muscles to trigger a smile. This is the start of the positive feedback loop of happiness. When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system, and further increasing our level of happy hormones, or endorphins. In short, when our brain feels happy, we smile; when we smile, our brain feels happier…Thanks to the positive feedback loop of smiling, we can alter our brain’s emotional processing pathway to feel happier with a simple smile.” –What’s The Science Behind a Smile by Ding Li
Real Smile, Fake Smile…Same Difference
Let me elaborate…
As mentioned above, when you feel happy you smile, but can the opposite be true?
Science says YES!
In 2012, psychological scientists Sarah Pressman and Tara Kraft, recruited 170 participants to investigate if forcing a smile could also trigger the release of endorphins. Participants were given two different stress-inducing assignments while holding chopsticks in their mouths. The chopsticks in mouth were placed in a way to create a Duchenne smile, a typical smile or a neutral expression. This study found that those who “smiled” during the tasks reported less stress, lower heart rates, and felt happier, than those with neutral expressions.
Make sure you’re using a Duchenne type smile when fake smiling, engaging all these muscles is essential to experience the benefits!
I Smile, You Smile, We All Smile
Just like laughter, smiling is also contagious!
It all lies in your brain’s cingulate cortex, your unconscious automatic response area responsible for mirrored reactions. We are equipped with “mirror neurons” that serve as a form of short-cut in the brain. These “mirror neurons” bypass the area connected with conscious processing, creating an instant mimicking response to facial expressions.
A Swedish study conducted in the years 2002 and 2011, at Uppsala University, further proved smiling is contagious. Participants shown images of smiles and frowns, were instructed to perform the opposite facial expression displayed in the picture. When they consciously attempted to meet a frown with a smile, and vice versa, the equipment measuring their facial muscles captured the “twitching” of muscles, concluding our unconscious mind is in control of our reactions.
We just can’t help it, we’re wired to mimic each others facial expressions, so with that said, SMILE!!!
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT FOLKS…
- When we’re happy we smile
- We can also fake a smile and feel happy
- Smiling is contagious, we can thank our brain for wiring us that way
Any comments or questions? I’d love to hear them!