How A Simple Smile Changes Everything
When we’re happy, we smile. When we’re angry, we frown. That’s the order of how it happens, isn’t it? We feel something, and our expression shows it. Or is that the way it works, after all?
The face isn’t a pressure-relief valve. It is more like a thermostat. — John Cloud, Time Magazine
Is it possible our expression actually creates what we feel?
The Smile That Comes First
We probably think that when we’re in a bad mood, our facial expression will reflect that. While this is likely the case, the reverse is also true: our facial expression can create the matching mood. The smile can create feelings of happiness.
A 2009 study through the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people who were physically unable to frown due to botox injections or other reasons were happier than people who were able to freely frown. The inability to frown created an overall happier attitude. By not frowning, our attitude can be changed to something positive. Taking it a step further, researchers found that our expressions not only created our moods, but also enhanced them. This meant that those who were going through a medical procedure found it even more painful if they frowned, and vice versa.
The Incredible Value Of A Smile
We tend to think of our smile very little, letting it show up on our face without thought, but the discovery of how it can set our own moods and attitudes shows just how important it is. Being comfortable with, and not afraid to share your smile, has an impact on your attitude and the way you feel.
It’s completely true that our face sets the tone for the rest of the body, including our attitude. While we may not think we are frowning, it’s likely true we aren’t smiling. Whether deep in concentration at our desk or just daydreaming, we often furrow our brown and clench our face in a way that’s anything but a smile.
Find ways to be purposeful in smiling. During the day, even if it feels silly at first, find ways to smile while working or sitting at your desk. If you are unhappy with your smile and feel uncomfortable showing it, visit your dentist and consider ways to enhance it. Even a simple procedure, like professional whitening, can boost confidence in your smile.
Across cultures, the smile and the frown are universally recognized signals of the same emotions. Whether you realized it or not, you spoke many languages! Wouldn’t you rather spread a smile than a frown?