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Why you should Smile More

Updated on August 12, 2015

Smile!

I remember the day that I started practicing how not to smile. I was on a school bus, maybe 8 or 9 years old. One of the older "cool" kids started calling me "smiley" and making fun of my cheery demeanor. I had to fight to keep the corners of my mouth from forming a smile, but I was able to control it with a lot of effort.

The effect of the teasing had a profound effect on me that I would not come to realize for many years. Over the coming days, I would focus on stopping myself from smiling. Not really frowning, but to have no specific expression on my face. I continued with this blank look for most of my life.

I turned into a dreary, cynical, sarcastic person. I had problems relating to others, and never really fit in, even among the misfits. Frequently, I was unhappy and depressed.

All because I learned how not to smile.

Photo by: Porsche Brosseau

Smile!

Smiling is more than just a response to being happy. A fake smile creates real happiness. Robert Zajonc studied this and found that the simple act of smiling, despite how you "really" feel, will improve your mood.

He found that your affect(smiling or frowning for example) is more indicative of your feeling (happy, sad). In essence, we are happy because we are smiling. We are not smiling because we are happy. Smiling causes happiness, not necessarily the other way around.

If you are smiling, other people will smile with you.

This theory is actually not new, just not well known. According to a the New York Times article, Charles Darwin postulated this theory before the 20th century in his book Expression of the Emotions.

Girl with Duchenne Smile
Girl with Duchenne Smile

Smiling people are treated better

and seen as more attractive!

According to the University of Louvain in Belgium, having crow's feet when you smile make you appear to have a more genuine smile.

Smiling waitresses make more money than non-smiling waitresses.

Ladies, you are more likely to be approached (20% greater chance) by a man if you make eye contact. Smile and this increases to 60%.

See a guy you like, make eye contact, and add a smile!

Men, smiling doesn't work like this, but it can't hurt. Pride or Shame seemed to work better.

Man smiling, with dimples
Man smiling, with dimples

Happier people live longer

According to a study of about 3800 individuals, happy people have a much less likely chance of death.

The study found that, over a 5 year period, the chance of death of unhappy people was about 7%. The happiest people had about a 3.5% chance of dying, or about half the chance.

I would say that the happiest people had a much better time than the unhappy ones as well!

Smiling is universal!

Everyone smiles!

Smiling is universal. Every culture smiles, and it is understood to mean being happy. Smile at someone, and even if they don't understand what you are saying, they will understand a smile.

Even some animals smile!

Hand signals are not the same! A V-sign is seen as the equivalent of the middle finger in the United States in most other English speaking nations. George Bush, Sr. famously gave the V-sign to some Australian farmers, after stating he was an expert in hand signs. He later apologized.

A thumbs up in the Middle East is even worse!

I've decided to start smiling more

I've decided that what I learned when I was younger, how not to smile, has had a bad influence on me. I've decided to attempt to revert back to my sunnier disposition, and start smiling again! I hope this will help me be a happier, more social, person.

I think if I can start smiling, maybe someone else will start smiling to. Since smiling is contagious, maybe I can make the world a happier place.

Will you start smiling with me?

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    • profile image

      Sundaycoffee 4 years ago

      Interesting article. Must start exercising smiles. :):):)

    • profile image

      Colin323 4 years ago

      Yes, a smile can brighten up a dull day.

    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 4 years ago

      I believe that everyone is beautiful when they smile! Love your lens! Yep, I am smiling with you!

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 4 years ago

      Excellent lens! Smiling definitely makes me feel happy!

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      The theory of smiling is one that I have promoted very often. I worked at a call center years ago and they would come and stick a smiley on our computer if we were not smiling. Many of us were given the lecture that a smile shows in your voice so "SMILE". It actually was one of the happiest jobs I had as the supervisors did everything they could to make us smile. They would bring around little surprises like cookies, chocolates, flowers, or stickers. It was fun.

    • profile image

      rakesarm 4 years ago

      I had some health problems few days ago, I went to see a doc. At a clinic, there was this girl, an assistant, she was like 20s but she was smiling at everyone. There were lots of people, asking questions, but she was taking it all in and letting out smiling at everyone answering them. I don't about others, but half of my illness was already gone.

      Nice lens

      Cheers

    • profile image

      laurenrich 4 years ago

      This is an awesome lens. I love to smile. Thanks for sharing a smile with me.

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 4 years ago from Michigan

      Had to smile when I read your lens. Well done! I love smiles. In fact, as a cartoonist, I suspect (and hope!) I've been responsible for a few over the decades. :D

    • EpicEra profile image

      EpicEra 4 years ago

      You bet! Similar story here - different reasons for it, but there was a time when smiling was attached to shame and avoided. Funny ducks we are :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      How sad that you were actually bullied into not smiling. I will, indeed, smile with you - anytime!

    • opatoday profile image

      opatoday 4 years ago

      What a fantastic lens, makes me smile :)

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 4 years ago

      A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. - Phyllis Diller

      Love this quote and it fits your lens. Sundae ;-)