Go ahead. Just go ahead and smile. Seriously. Do it. Your smile, even in simple form, can prove one of the most powerful tools you have to use, and everyone has one.
Do you know about the science behind smiles? What does smiling really mean? Why do you do it? How do others actually read your smile?
Even though people have been smiling all across history, it might have been Charles Darwin who first started studying smiles in particular. He did note that smiles seemed to be universal, which it’s always true for verbal communication or even body language, which changes from one culture to the next. However, everyone understands a smile, as well as the emotions that are behind it.
Darwin did more than that. He actually distinguished smiling apart from laughter, though he did note that smiling and laughter often showed up together. He did, however, believe that laughter was more associated with amusement and smiling was more of a sign of happiness.
It’s quite true. The reason most people smile is because they are happy and they want to convey that emotion and share that joy with others.
However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, people are happy just because they choose to smile.
For quite a while, scientists and researchers have explored the link between a person’s emotions and the changes that happen within their body, be it elevated heart rates, blood pressure, or muscle tension. Even the flexion of a zygomatic major muscle might happen…that’s what laymen call smiling.
This is known as ‘facial feedback hypothesis.’ It’s when your brain reacts to whatever your body is doing, and it has a ripple effect on your emotions. If you smile, whether it is genuine or not, your brain is going to interpret as happiness, so your mood accordingly changes.
Here’s yet another interesting fact: frowning takes 43 muscles, but smiling only requires 17. So, when you put a smile on your face, even if you don’t feel like it, you’re using less energy and effort than if you’re sulking.
If you’re in a good mood, a smile can be very natural. Of course, if you’re not in a good mood, you can likewise fake one.
Smiles can be many things, be they spontaneous, sincere, or dramatic. Depending on the specific muscles you use across your eyes, lips, cheeks, and overall face, your smiles can all look rather different. A smile can be polite and warm, endearing and symmetrical, or lopsided, miserable, and even cynical. Scientists have actually looked into this and identified 14 various kinds of smiles.
It is any surprise that your smiling face isn’t all that different from your tearful face? You’re no doubt familiar with the concept of ‘crying with laughter.’ Even in moments of shock or embarrassment, we’re still able to smile. If we hear about something tragic or bad news, we sometimes still smile, even if it’s totally contradictory to our feelings at that moment in time.
Despite all of this, many humans are rather good at instinctively gauging the true feelings, emotions, and intentions of others. We’re able to put ourselves in their shoes and figure out how they’re feeling, even if they’re not showing it. This gives us the power to know whether or not smiles are genuine or otherwise.
It’s good to be mindful of the fact that smiles can be really infectious, even if we’re not actually all that happy. So, even on days you’re not really feeling joy, smiling at those around you mean they’re more likely to smile, and that can enhance your own mood in return.
A number of theorists have actually linked smiling and dominance. Research conducted that observed two people with different social ranks demonstrated that the dominant person was the one that smiled more in what was labeled ‘friendly situations’ but much less in what was designated as ‘unfriendly situations.’
Dominance in societal affairs is something that can manifest itself in many different ways. There are many roles of power, from movie stars and politicians to teachers and doctors or law enforcement and athletes, and many of these individuals, know how to use smiling to their own benefit.
Many individuals, particularly those often in the public eye, are known to practice their smiling. They do this because a great smile increases their popularity and reputation. When they practice smiling, they can actually teach their facial muscles how to generate a perfect smile at the spur of the moment. Of course, a smile that is genuine doesn’t need any practice, but anyone commonly in the spotlight can’t afford to be pictured with a smile that is disingenuous or unflattering, as that could have a negative reaction. Muscle memory is what it’s all about.
So there you are. A smile is actually something that can help improve your mood, and it also lets others respond positively towards you. Whether it’s your career or a relationship, a smile means that things are more likely to go your way. Use your smiles to demonstrate your positive vibes, or just to mask your more negative feelings. A smile truly is one of the greatest gifts humanity has to enjoy and offer!