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Grin and Bear It?

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Can Faking a Smile Actually Make You Happier? Scientists Say YES!

Pretty asian lady smiling
Have you heard of the "facial feedback hypothesis?" The facial feedback hypothesis suggests that an individual's experience of emotion is influenced by feedback from their facial movements. And the latest study from the journal Nature Human Behavior showed that the hypothesis is true. 
Nicholas Coles of Stanford led the study. He recruited 3878 people from different countries. None of the participants knew the study was about how a fake smile might influence their mood: They were given "decoy" instructions, like hand gestures, to obfuscate the real intent of trying to see if a forced smirk worked.

The volunteers were forced to smiled while placing a pen between their teeth, mimicking a photo of a smiling actor, or being told to only smile. Others maintained a neutral expression. They were then given a questionnaire looking into their happiness and anxiety levels, along with a math problem—again, to obscure the true intent of the research.

The result? Happiness appeared to be mildly increased in those smiling or mimicking a smiling actor compared to those with fixed expressions. The pen-in-mouth task produced less of a change because it's a product of a physical object creating a physical transformation and doesn't involve the same muscles used in smiling.

Coles told The Times of Israel that "the conscious experience of emotion must be at least partially based on bodily sensations."

Smiling tricks the brain into thinking you should be happy and creates a little of those happy emotions. The only downside is it is for a tiny bit here and there. To keep the feeling, you have to be consistent, which is the hard part when you're angry or sad. But hey, a little bit of happiness is still good, right? 

War (Life)  is a game that is played with a smile. If you can't smile, grin. If you can't grin, keep out of the way till you can.


Winston Churchill



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