- Mental Health
Why you should Smile More
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.