Whether you picked a fight with your loved one, or woke up on the wrong side of your bed or struggled with your morning commute to a job interview, which you did not enjoy, it can be difficult to plaster a smile across your annoyed face when you feel less than chipper. However, remember a smile is one of the most important gestures in the world.
When you choose to smile, you pave the way to happy and positive changes, both externally and internally. A random smile holds immense power, as long as you are willing to share it with the world. Smiling is important for a myriad of reasons and it is vital that we understand this fact. The following discussion will outline the reasons why it is important to understand the simple gesture called a smile.
Smiling Enhances Your Mood
Your facial expressions not just communicate your current mood, they have the potential of influencing your mood as well. Emotions tend to originate in your brain, but your facial muscles can either transform or reinforce those feelings. Numerous recent studies have shown that by enhancing your positive emotions or suppressing the negative ones, your mood tends to align powerfully with the emotion that you are expressing.
Even Fake Smiles Work
While there is no denying a few researchers persist that the benefits of smiling can only be achieved through a true expression of happiness, some others have discovered that even a forced or fake smile can make you feel happier, even when your current surroundings and mood suggest otherwise. Smiling takes only a brief amount of time to yield its positive results, irrespective of how contrived it felt initially. So, fake a smile, as it does no harm.
Smiling Reduces Stress
According to a study conducted in 2012 and published in the famous journal Psychological Science, psychological scientists from University of Kansas studied over 170 participants who held chopsticks in their mouths in 3 different formations. They were made to smile to different degrees without realizing it, following a stressful chore. The experiment clearly indicated that participants who wore the biggest smile with their chopsticks reported a significant reduction in heart rate and swift stress recovery in comparison to those who had neutral expressions on their faces.
Smiling Increases Your Approachability
According to a study conducted in 2014 by the Penn State University, it was revealed that authentic smiles shared and exchanged by employees working in the service sector positively affected their customer impressions. Employees who tend to smile often come across as more pleasant and welcoming, and their customers felt more satisfied with the overall experience. Although later experiments also took into consideration factors, like employee job performance and the busyness of the facility, the researchers noted adding an authentic smile made workers appear more competent.
Smiling Promotes Trustworthiness
From a strictly psychological point of view, a person who tends to smile more seems more trustworthy compared to a person who is either maintaining a neutral expression or frowning. During a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, researchers looked into the potential link between a model’s apparent level of trustworthiness, her level of attractiveness and the intensity of her smile. Participants of the study ranked over 50 models based on these 3 conditions, showing that the more a model smiled, the more trustworthy he/she appeared.
Smiling Helps Your Brain
While our brain has a natural predisposition to think negatively as a defense mechanism, smiling regularly helps your mind transition to a positive space and it remains there the longer you smile. According to author Shawn Achor, who wrote The Happiness Advantage, making smiling an everyday practice helps our brain in creating happiness loops that promote further positive thinking patterns. According to him, happiness takes work. It requires our brain to train similarly to how athletes train their bodies.
Smiles Are Contagious
Have you noticed how often a colleague or a friend will reciprocate your beautiful smile after you share it? This phenomenon has a scientific explanation. Marco Iacoboni a neuroscientist stated we all have something known as mirror neurons. These are cells in the inferior parietal cortex and premotor cortex that are activated on the performance of a given action and when we see someone else performing that action.
When it comes to our smiles, mirror neurons react to the act of doing as well as seeing. Mirror neurons help us in understanding other people by giving a sort of internal imitation of other peoples’ actions, which in turn promotes a simulation of the emotions and intentions associated with those actions. When you see a person wearing a broad smile, your mirror neurons for smiling get into action and initiate a cascade of neural activity, which produces feelings that are usually associated with a smile.