Psych Fact: Smiling Makes You Happy

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Have you ever tried being mad while smiling? It just doesn’t work. Smiling does a lot of great things for our body in a lot of different ways. It does more than just good for ourselves, it even helps our relationships with others. Smiling is an important psychological, physiological and social part of human behavior.

Sometimes, forcing a smile isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it is the best thing for us. A forced smile is rarely ever easy, especially when we’re mad or upset and just don’t want to smile. The best part about it is our brain doesn’t really care if it was easy or hard to smile; a forced smile is still a smile, and that does magical things to our brain. Our brain hates inconsistency. It likes our external and internal state to be synchronized. By forcing a smile, your brain wonders why, and to create a balance releases endorphins and neurotransmitters that support the contraction of the muscles for smiling, making our smile go from a forced one to a genuine one. These same chemicals are associated with genuine happiness, which reduces stress and relieves muscle tension, making us feel better.

Smiling is an important factor in social interactions, as well. By nature, humans are drawn to smiles, and repelled by scowling faces. A smile can instantly change your mood, and the mood of others. A smile, much like yawning, is contagious. Even in the worst of circumstances, we may instantly smile back at a smiling person.
The endorphins and neurotransmitters released by smiling not only relax us, but they also give us the natural appearance of “Life is great!” and shares this with others. Smiling also makes us seem more confident, and increases the likeliness that someone will cooperate with us.

A smile also has various other benefits for us:

  1. It can instantly relieve stress and make us look more relaxed and hopeful.
  2. Smiling improves the clarity of mind, helping us make better, optimal decisions, making it easier for us to achieve our goals.
  3. It’s a completely natural “drug,” with great benefits for our body and health. It releases healing hormones, like serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and pain-lowering endorphins.
  4. Smiling boosts the immune system. It relaxes and balances the autonomous nervous system; giving our body an extra chance to fight off illnesses and can help prevent colds and the flu (within reason, of course)

At the end of the day, a smile is worth a lot more than people would imagine. So, next time you’re feeling down or things aren’t quite going right, instead of doing what comes naturally to us and showing disappointment or frustration, flash a smile and you will feel so much better, and what’s the worst that could happen? Even if you don’t necessarily feel better, you could definitely brighten someone else’s day. So smile!

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About Author

Hi! My name is Aaron Martes. If you translate my name to English it would be Aaron Tuesday, hence the name of my column Tuesday's psychology. I'm currently a second semester junior majoring in Forensic Psychology. I'm originally from the island of Aruba. FIT has literally been a home away from home. On campus I'm an active member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, president of the surf club, and work in various offices across campus. The best part about being here at Florida Tech is the ability to combine your passions with your hobbies and make the most of my college experience.

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