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The Psychology of Smiling: Anxiety and Depression Resources

It’s no secret that smiling has a number of positive effects on both the mind and the body. In fact, smiling is more effective in stimulating the reward mechanism of the brain than chocolate is, meaning that smiling makes people feel happy. For an example of this, watch children as they naturally go through their day. Generally, kids are happier and more energetic simply because they laugh more during a 24-hour period than adults do. One recent study indicated that children laugh 400 times per day on average, while adults who are considered happy will smile only 40 or 50 times per day. Average adults manage to smile or laugh only about 20 times per day.

Other scientific studies have indicated that people can derive the same amount of happiness from smiling than from physical exercise. Those who smile or laugh often will tend to be happier, more energetic, and healthier. On the other end of the spectrum, a grumpy person may have an identity connected with feeling unloved, victimized, or marginalized.

Smiling is also connected with having a peaceful existence with others. Putting a genuine smile on your face as you approach an enemy will likely delay any plan to harm you, at least initially. Mother Theresa advocated the connection between smiling and peace as well with her statement: “Peace begins with a smile.” Smiling is conducive to relationship-building because it helps people seem open and interested in connecting with others.

Smiling can have many health benefits as well as social and psychological advantages.

  • Smiling reduces stress. Stress and anxiety can be ongoing challenges, but smiling more often helps the mind and body release stress naturally. Smiling helps reduce stress-induced hormones in the bloodstream, which helps avoid adrenal fatigue.
  • Smiling enhances positive emotions. Everyone has both positive and negative emotions swimming around in their mind. When you choose to smile and laugh often, you tap into your positive emotions.
  • Smiling often helps you appear more approachable and desirable. Others will naturally feel drawn to you when you smile in both personal and professional situations.

Fake smiles are usually instantly recognizable. On the surface, it may look as if someone is smiling, but it lacks a genuine feel of warmth and friendliness. Those on the receiving end of a fake smile will often feel unsettled. People giving a fake smile may do it when they feel disinterested, tired, or preoccupied. Some people might also resort to a fake smile if they feel uncomfortable smiling or if they aren’t happy. Putting on a genuine smile could be a conscious choice you make. In the face of challenges, you might need to make a concerted choice to stay positive and smile.

Learning to smile genuinely may take some practice. Even if you’ve gotten out of the habit of smiling, you can learn how to smile again like children do. To relearn the art of authentic smiling, work on your subconscious assumptions about smiling. Start visualizing yourself as a smiling, happy person. Consider smiling to be an outward representation of an attitude of wellness, love, and acceptance. Try to think of your genuine smiles as your way of bestowing peace and confidence on others.

If you have trouble feeling like smiling, think of a person or an event that made you feel happy or joyful. Recalling this person or event immediately before you’re in a social situation might help you relax and feel happy enough to smile genuinely. Imagining a rainbow might also help you relax and feel happy. Practice your smiling skills in front of a mirror. A genuine smile involves using the eye socket muscles to show sincerity as well as the muscles at the corners of your mouth, which create a social smile. An authentic smile involves both of these sets of muscles, and you should also feel relaxed when you smile genuinely.

Once you practice your smiling skills, you should find that you’re healthier, happier, and more relaxed. Your smiling muscles connect directly to your nervous system and brain, so smiling can improve your mood.

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