Monday, November 9, 2020

Does Smiling Make You Feel Better?

On one of the exercise videos I have, the instructor claimed one should smile even if one doesn't feel happy because it can change your mood to being happy. I'd never heard that claim before but it sort of makes sense but after a bit of reading, it appears that it can or it might make you feel more upset depending on the circumstances.  

If you have a job with the public and your boss says you must always smile, it might not make you feel happier because you feel forced to do it.  Some jobs will fire you if you do not provide service with a smile which can make a person feel stressed.

On the other hand, if you are not forced to smile but choose to, that is a whole different scenario.  Many, many stars have sung about the power of a smile being quite powerful but in recent research, scientists have discovered, the smile may indeed be quite powerful.  Look at the painting of Mona Lisa with mysterious smile.  People see it, smile, and remember it. 

In one experiment, people placed a pencil between their teeth so they forced their muscles to smile and the  person started feeling happier.  It was as if the muscles of the body smiling, told the body it has happier and the emotion of the person changed so they feel happier.  Psychologically, when a person smiles, it sends a activates the amygdala which is the emotional center of the brain and the amygdala releases neurotransmitters that make a person feel more positive.  It's like they feel the same reward as when you eat chocolate.  Research has indicated a smile can give you the same level of stimulation as eating 2,000 chocolate bars or receiving $16,000 in cash.  

This discovery provides some interesting applications to the area of mental health because it might be possible to trick the mind into being happier. There is a strong connection between action and perception so this is a reasonable possibility. In addition, it supports the saying of "Fake it till you make it" in regard to being happier.

So in addition to making you feel happier, it can make others feel better because smiling is contagious.  When you see a person smiling, you automatically want to smile back and you automatically begin feeling more positive.  Furthermore, when you smile, your face lights up, and you attract the attention of others so you might find the perfect mate, a best friend, or even land a job.  This is due to a smile making you seem more open and people have less fear and uncertainty about relating to you.

 Another side effect of smiling is that your brain works about 31% more effectively so if you smile at a person you have to work with, it can make collaboration or just working together more effective. What most people don't know is that the brain keeps tract of how often you smile and uses that to help judge your emotional state.

The other thing about smiling is that it provides instant feedback to everyone in a time where immediate feedback is the norm.  People don't have to think about what a smile means.  If you do well, you get a smile or you smile.  In addition, happiness is a state of being not a collection of things so the smile helps us again the state of happiness.  So rather than gritting your teeth and bearing it, smile, so the world smiles with you.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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