How to Improve Your Smile for a Better Life, With Science!
Lets Smile Together
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
I think we all know that a smile is a valuable resource. You can observe it working in the lives of the people around you. Those who wear their smile well, and often, seem to move through life with more grace. Not because they don't have anything going wrong in their lives, but because they have a practice of smiling regardless of the circumstances. Besides the obvious benefits of having a great smile, research has shown that our smile has a greater impact than we could ever guess.
There are a lot of reasons you might not smile much, or as well as you'd like to. If you've been suffering from depression for a long time, you may have forgotten the wonders of smiling and have a difficult time generating a good one. Some people with Aspergers Disorder don't naturally learn how to produce a genuine smile. Whatever your reason is for wanting to become more familiar with the mechanics, and the impact of your smile, there is plenty of research with a lot to offer.
According to a study from 2013, found that there is a relationship between how attractive participants consider a face and the quality of its smile.(1) We also know that smiling releases dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in our brains, which makes us happier!(2) Would you believe that smiling could make others perceive you as more trustworthy, intelligent, and increase your profit potential? (3)(4) Researchers have even found that it can lower your heart rate, boost your immune system and increases your lifespan!(5) If all of that wasn’t good enough, science confirms that smiles are contagious.(6)While we’re improving our health, and relationships with the people around us, we can also inspire those benefits in them.
What qualifies as a genuine smile?
We've seen that research studies are abundant with the benefits of smiling. But what exactly is make up of a smile? Most people think of a smile as raising the corners of your mouth and showing some teeth. However, in the 19th century, a French neurologist discovered that there are two distinct types of smile. There is the common smile with simply up-turned lips. However, to be considered a genuine display of emotion you must also raise your cheeks and cause the corners of your eyes to squinch together. That smile is known as the Duchenne Smile after the researcher who discovered it.(7) A 2001 study confirmed that smiling with your eyes has a much more power effect compared to one that only involves your mouth.(8)
Fake It till ya Make It!
A smile doesn't have to be in response to your emotional state. Smiling can be a choice you make! Research has shown that directing the muscles in your face can cause your body to respond positively.(9)I've seen the results in my own life! I already feel so much better, just as a result of writing and researching this article.
It's easy to allow depression and anxiety to take the lead in our lives. However, making the decision to smile produces immediate results. Remembering to practice smiling is the beginning of a habit which can improve your mood and interactions with others. Making it a habit to smile every day, throughout your day, can lead to a consistently better life! You could even try writing "SMILE!!!" on your mirror and draw pictures of smiling eyes on it.
Every Day is a Good Day to Smile
We've learned about the many benefits that a smile can bring, as well as what research shows to be a real and genuine smile. You don't have to show your teeth, or spread your lips. What really matters is raising your cheeks, which causes the corner of your eyes to come together. You've probably noticed by now that I've chosen these images to show exactly what we're going for. It's comforting to know that all I have to do to share a little warmth with myself, and those around me, is to raise my cheeks a bit.
No matter how depressed you are, or what difficulties you're facing, a smile can be your choice. A decision to smile more often can profoundly change the way your brain works, how you feel, and how you relate to the world!
Take a few moments in front of a mirror to practice smiling at yourself every day.
You'll be Happy that You Did!
1. The interrelationship between attractiveness and emotional expression
2. Cognitive Neuroscience of Emotion
3. Smiles rated as genuine induce trust and signal higher earning opportunities
4. Perceived Intelligence Is Associated with Measured Intelligence in Men but Not Women
5. Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity
6. Why smiles (and frowns) are contagious
7. Wikipedia - Duchenne smile
8. All smiles are positive, but some smiles are more positive than others.
9. Grin and bear it: the influence of manipulated facial expression on the stress response.
© 2018 Jonathan Livingston