It seems like such a simple thing - a smile. We smile when we are expressing happiness, excitement, contentment. We do it when we meet new people, spend time with friends, colleagues, and family. We even smile when we don’t necessarily want to smile, when we aren’t feeling like smiling.
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For such a common gesture, it's pretty important! Here are 5 fun facts about your smile:
1. Smiling releases “feel good” hormones in your body
The act of smiling, even if it’s a forced or fake smile, releases hormones in your body that can result in an improved mood. Every time you smile, your body sends Dopamine (rewards), Endorphins (a natural pain reliever) and Serotonin (a mood booster) coursing through your body. So, whether you were smiling because you were feeling good to begin with, or just faking it, smiling will make you feel better even if that wasn’t how you were feeling to begin with!
2. Smiles cause mimicry
A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology showed their subjects pictures of people expressing various emotions - joy, anger, fear, and surprise. When the subjects were shown a photo of someone smiling, they were instructed to frown. That turned out to be a little difficult for the study participants! Researchers found that the subjects mimicked the behavior they saw when shown a photograph of someone smiling - that is, they smiled! Participants had to make a conscious effort to frown when shown those images.
3. Smiles create a reward response in our brains
The Journal of Neuropsychology published a study that revealed that smiling at someone activates the part of your brain that processes sensory rewards. Wow! So, every time you smile at someone, you are actually rewarding them!
4. Smiles make you look younger
When the UMKC Department of Psychology conducted a study asking participants to rate the age of subjects in a photograph as young or old, they came up with some pretty surprising results. Irregardless of actual age of the subject in the photograph, those that were smiling had a higher prevalence of being rated “young”, while those not smiling or frowning were more often rated as “old”.
5. Smiling makes you more attractive
Smiling makes you more attractive - or at least that’s the result of a study conducted by Researchers at the University of Aberdeen in 2011. They asked participants to rate the attractiveness of subjects and found that those subjects who were smiling and making eye contact were rated as being more attractive versus those who were not.
So what’s the point?
A smile is a normal gesture, but one that we may not think about so often. If you think about it, smiling is like a little happiness circle.
We smile - and that releases all those feel good hormones in our body. Because we are smiling, anyone we come into contact with is not only rewarded for seeing that smile, but they mimic our behavior. Even if they weren’t feeling good before, they are at least feeling a little better (because of the reward stimulus and resultant feel good hormones from all the smiling). Now, both people are smiling and, because they are smiling, they seem to others both younger and more attractive.
We hope you enjoyed these little fun facts about smiling - and we really hope you smiled at least a little reading this!