The Science of Smiling
Happiness is an ambiguous term that get’s used to define a number of rather different emotions. We can be happy through enjoying the current activity, we can be happy with our lives overall and how we’ve spent them, we can even be happy with things that were initially painful if we find a silver lining.
One thing we all seem to agree on is that, when someone is happy, they smile. It’s the universal sign of positive emotions, every culture innately does the same. What is rather interesting and unintuitive, as science has now found, is that smiling when you’re unhappy can cause you to become happy. The burgeoning field is known as embodied cognition, and the idea is that faking an emotion actually leads to feel that emotion, it’s a two way street. The Huffington Post has more:
The results showed that the people who were instructed to smile had lower heart rate levels and less stress after the activities, and this was especially true for those with the biggest Duchenne smiles. But even those who weren’t told to smile, yet had their mouths forced into a smile by the chopsticks, came out of the tasks feeling more content and less stressed than the neutral expression subjects.
It seems that the simple act of a physical smile, authentic or not, tricks your brain into thinking you’re actually happy. Smiling also triggers us to think back to joyful memories, further improving mood.
The effect is not only limited to smiling either, we can even use it to help boost our confidence or resolve. Check out the full post for all the details of the studies.
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About Sam Brinson Sam is a writer living in Uruguay. Sam follows the latest in aging break throughs.