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10 science-backed reasons why we should all smile more often

10 science-backed reasons why we should all smile more often
Source: DianaFeil/Stocksnap

If you want to live a longer happier healthier life, all you need to do smile more often, and there’s plenty of science behind it.

Grinners are winners — and science says so!

Psychologists and health researchers around the world are finding ever more science-backed reasons we should spend more time smiling. Even smiling when you aren’t feeling happy can trigger natural chemicals in your body to help shift your mood to a more positive one. Here are 10 jolly good reasons to smile more often.

10 science-backed reasons to smile Nobody likes to be told to smile when they’re not in the mood for it — but what if it was Science telling you to smile? Research has shown there are many surprising and amazing benefits to be had if you’ll just grin and bear it. Source: Facebook/BrightVibes

Reasons to be cheerful: parts 1–5

  1. Smiling makes you more popular and approachable: Research shows a genuine smile leads others to believe you have unselfish intentions so your smile can be your magnet to attract friends. One of the functions of human smiling is to advertise cooperative dispositions and thereby increase the likelihood that a social partner would invest resources in a relationship. People are naturally more willing and open to form relationships with someone who smiles.
  2. Smiling makes you look younger and more attractive: People are most likely to underestimate someone’s age when they are smiling. In tests, young, middle-aged, and older raters evaluated 1,026 prototypical facial poses of neutrality, happiness, anger, disgust, fear, and sadness stemming from 171 young, middle-aged, and older posers. The data showed that raters consistently underestimated the age of the smiling posers.
  3. Smiling is contagious: Smiling can trigger another person to smile so we can help others to feel happier simply by smiling at them. When we observe a facial expression of emotion, we often mimic it. This automatic mimicry reflects underlying sensorimotor simulation that supports accurate emotion recognition. Activation of one component can therefore automatically activate other components, hence when people simulate a perceived facial expression, they partially activate the corresponding emotional state in themselves.
  4. Smiling may help you live longer: Smiling relaxes your body slows your heart rate and reduces blood pressure decreasing your chances of heart disease. Studies carried out at Wayne State University have found that the larger your smile, the longer you may live. Yes, that’s right; "smile intensity" seems to have a statistically significant effect on a person’s longevity.
  5. Smiling increases trustworthiness: Everyone wants to be seen as trustworthy so to gain more trust in your relationships smile early and often. Researchers tested the hypothesis that smiles perceived as honest serve as a signal that has evolved to induce cooperation in situations requiring mutual trust. It literally pays to smile.

Sources: (links to individual sources in each entry)

A genuine smile leads others to believe you have unselfish intentions so your smile can be your magnet to attract friends. One of the functions of human smiling is to advertise cooperative dispositions and thereby increase the likelihood that a social partner would invest resources in a relationship.
People are naturally more willing and open to form relationships with someone who smiles A genuine smile leads others to believe you have unselfish intentions so your smile can be your magnet to attract friends. One of the functions of human smiling is to advertise cooperative dispositions and thereby increase the likelihood that a social partner would invest resources in a relationship. Source: Rawpixel/Stocksnap

More Reasons to be cheerful: parts 6–10

6. Smiling strengthens relationships: People who smile more tend to be more optimistic, joyful and emotionally stable which lends itself to healthier longterm relationships. College photos indicate later personality development and marital success, study suggests. Researchers are reporting findings that link early positive emotional expression with personality and life outcomes across later adulthood.

7. Smiling can make someone else’s day: Seeing another’s smile can stimulate the heart and brain even more than eating chocolate, having sex, or receiving money, according to new research. When asked: "What gives you the best short-term high?", the responses from people in Scotland were as follows: smiling (36% – the second highest figure across the UK) making love (20% – higher than the national average), listening to your favourite song (13%), shopping (7%), eating a bar of chocolate (4%).

8. Smiling makes you appear more confident: Smiling will not only make you feel better, but will make others feel more comfortable around you. Imagine a person with good posture and a smile and you’ll be envisioning someone who is self-confident. It’s a knock-on effect. Smiling, even if you’re not feeling it quite yet, gives others confidence in your confidence.

9. Smiling makes you feel better emotionally and physically: Smiling even when you aren’t feeling happy can trigger natural chemicals in your body to help shift your mood. According to the facial feedback hypothesis, facial muscles do not only express emotions, they also have the ability to modulate subjective experiences of emotions and to initiate emotions. Recent research has borne this hypothesis out.

10. Smiling is comparatively easy: Smiling requires less effort than frowning because fewer facial muscles are used.

So… Smile! And if anyone asks you what you’re grinning at, you can tell them — Science told you to.

Sources: (links to individual sources in each entry)

Make an Impact

42 Amazingly Free Things That Will Make You Smile

“The best things in life are free” is an oft-quote term, but is it true? We certainly think so, especially if you consider these 42 amazingly simple, beautiful, and absolutely free things to try. Each one of them will definitely bring a smile to your face and those around you. After all, what’s better than improving your day and making someone else’s day while you’re at it? The best part is, they won’t cost you a cent. Happy days!