The Science of Smiling: A Guide to Human's Most Powerful Gesture
1. Why did the Mona Lisa become one of the most famous paintings of all time? That's a question an incredible amount of people have asked themselves in the past. And one possible answer is this: because of her unique smile.
2. The smile is the "the symbol that was rated with the highest positive emotional content," concludes scientist Andrew Newberg.
The science of smiling: What happens to our brain when we smile?
3. Let's say you experience a positive situation, and you see a friend you haven't met in a long time. This means that neuronal signals travel from the cortex of your brain to the brainstem (the oldest part of our brains). From there, the cranial muscle carries the signal further towards the smiling muscles in your face.
Sounds simple enough, right?
4. And yet, that's only where it starts. Once the smiling muscles in our face contract, there is a positive feedback loop that now goes back to the brain and reinforces our feeling of joy. To put it more succinctly: "Smiling stimulates our brain's reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match."
5. Smiling seems to give us the same happiness that exercising induces, in terms of how our brain responds. In short: our brain feels good and tells us to smile. We smile and tell our brain it feels good and so forth. That's why in a recent research study, scientists concluded: "that smiling can be as stimulating as receiving up to 16,000 Pounds Sterling in cash."
What smiling does to our health, success, and feeling of happiness
6. Smiling can change our brain through the powerful feedback loop we discussed above. And your brain keeps track of your smiles, kind of like a smile scorecard. It knows how often you've smiled and which overall emotional state you are in, therefore.
7. Smiling reduces stress that your body and mind feel, almost similar to getting good sleep, according to recent studies. And smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you. That's why we often feel happier around young children - they smile more. On average, they do so 400 times a day. Whilst happy people still smile 40-50 times a day, the average of us only does so 20 times.
8. Why does this matter? Smiling leads to a decrease in the stress-induced hormones that negatively affect your physical and mental health, say the latest studies:
In a famous study of yearbooks, they tracked the lives of women who had the best smiles in yearbook photos compared to the rest. Women who smiled the most lived happier lives, happier marriages, and had fewer setbacks.
A baseball card study also found a clear correlation between how big a smile someone
made on a baseball card photo and how long they would live. The people who smiled the
most turned out to live 7 years longer than those who didn't.
Smiling breeds trust, makes you happier, and helps you to live longer!