Can Smiling Make you Happier?

The idea that outward signs of emotion can actually intensify that emotion was proposed by Charles Darwin in 1872. However, Darwin’s idea never really caught on and for years, psychologists have believed that emotions follow thoughts that trigger facial expressions.

However, newer research indicates that the frown muscles on the forehead are directly connected to the areas of the brain associated with depression and other emotions, and that preventing the act of frowning via Botox injections to the area may actually alleviate the distressing symptoms.

There is plenty of evidence to indicate that the reverse may also be true.

Smiles are Contagious

According to the Foundation for Global Consideration and Peace,a genuine smile involves the contraction of muscles that cause the cheeks and sides of the mouth to rise and the eyes to crinkle.

“When we smile, the world smiles with us.” The old adage may actually be true as genuine smiles are highly contagious. Typically, we smile when we feel happy, but it works the other way too: we feel happier when we smile.

It seems that even smiles that are less than genuine can be beneficial. Interestingly, research over the last few decades indicates that although a fake smile that involves only the mouth may seem a bit awkward, it can bring about a feeling of happiness in the smiling person, and other people as well.

You may have noticed that’s very difficult to frown when looking at a smiling person. Numerous studies reveal that people who looked at themselves smiling in a mirror enjoyed marked improvement in mood, more than those who smiled without seeing their own faces in the mirror.

Can Smiling Really Make you Happier?

Depression is a serious disorder and smiling, whether real or genuine, won’t make unpleasant symptoms magically disappear. Even in the absence of depression, smiling can’t eliminate every feeling of sadness or every moment of crankiness that comes your way.

However, learning to smile is a pretty good idea as smiling can trick your brain and may help you feel more optimistic. Smiling can even decrease anxiety and make you feel a little better during stressful situations.

There is evidence that putting on a happy face may even lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and release endorphins that serve as natural pain relievers. Regular smiling may also improve learning and attention span.

Seeking Treatment

Smiling doesn’t cost anything, and learning to smile more often is certainly worth a try. However depression and anxiety are serious conditions that should never be minimized. If you experience symptoms of depression or anxiety, or if you find yourself using drugs or alcohol to make yourself feel better, it may be time to consider drug and alcohol treatment or rehab.

Don’t wait to seek help, as treatment can help you discover more constructive ways of coping. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will be on the path to a happier, more satisfying life.

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