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Plenty of things in life make us smile but we rarely think twice about the process of smiling itself. Ultimately, it’s just an automatic reaction that our face creates in response to positive emotions. Yet, as research finds more and more ways in which smiling is beneficial for you, it might be a good idea to make your smiling more intentional.
In this post, we’ll look into ten science-backed reasons to smile more. Hopefully, they’ll convince you to frown less and show more of your beautiful smile to the world on a daily basis!
Smiling more doesn’t necessarily mean you have to fake it, even though there is evidence that it helps trick your brain into feeling happier (more on this later). Instead, you can focus on finding more ways to attract joy into your life which will actually make you feel happier and produce a natural smile more often.
Here are some easy ways to introduce more smiling into your daily life:
- Read an inspirational quote in the morning to set your mood for the day.
- Surround yourself with little things that bring you joy.
- Spend time with people who make you feel good.
- Look at your vision board to get daily motivation to work for your goals.
- Tell yourself you are awesome in the mirror.
Now, let’s see all 10 best reasons to smile more and how they are supported by research.
10 science-backed reasons to smile more
1. Smiling makes you feel happier
Whatever we choose to do in life, we all have one big goal in common: we want to be happy. While smiling alone won’t magically make you a happy person, it can temporarily trick your brain into feeling good.
Oftentimes a boost like that is exactly what you need to make a good decision, to stop procrastinating and start working on something, or to just get yourself out of bed in the morning on the days when it feels like an impossible task.
In one study that involved thousands of participants from 19 countries, researchers noticed a positive improvement in the mood of people who were “mimicking smiling photographs or pulling their mouth toward their ears”. At the same time, people who were just holding a pen in their mouth to replicate the muscle movements of a smile didn’t show the same results. This tells us that our brain pays attention to the actual smile, not just the facial muscles involved.
The famous “fake it till you make it” approach that many coaches and motivational speakers swear by applies perfectly here. When you intentionally put a smile on your face, your brain gets the hint and releases a bunch of so-called “happiness hormones” that are responsible for making you feel happier right away. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of these natural chemicals and conquer the most important task of your day!
Besides, consistently working on your goals is what makes your dreams come true, which is a big contributor to your overall happiness. And simply imagining living your dreams should give you one more good reason to smile today!
2. Smiling makes you healthier
We know that smiling releases feel-good neurotransmitters like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. But are there actual health benefits besides just improving our mood? Let’s look at what science has to say.
One study observed eight hundred Italians of similar socio-economic situations and was summarized in a statement saying “happiness is strongly correlated with perceived good health”. This is great, but still slightly unconvincing as positive people who are focused on the bright side might naturally describe their health in a more positive way.
Results of another study on the effects of positive emotions support the idea that negativity-oriented people have poorer immune systems and are at higher risk of getting ill than people with a positive attitude. That’s actually very promising and gives us a pretty good reason to smile, doesn’t it? Nobody wants to be vulnerable to sicknesses, especially with all the old and new viruses flying around these days.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine were able to prove the positive effect of smiling on an individual’s perceived pain levels. In particular, they found that people with a Duchenne smile (a genuine one that involves cheeks and eyes) not only had lower heart rates during a needle injection but also reportedly felt only about half as much pain as the others.
This discovery seems particularly useful for people with needle anxiety. Let’s all try smiling the next time we get vaccinated and take advantage of natural painkillers!
3. Smiling makes you appear more attractive
A smile is the best makeup a girl could wear.Marilyn Monroe
A study published in the Cognition and Emotion journal looked into the way we process other people’s facial expressions. The results are quite promising for people who are trying to manifest love: a happier-looking face evidently appears more attractive than a neutral or negative one. It even says that “a happy facial expression could compensate for relative unattractiveness”, which gives some additional reassurance to those of us with low self-esteem.
Moreover, even the intensity of a smile appeared to have an effect on this perception, which is a good reason to give up shyness and start showing some teeth!
If you are not in the market for love, smiling can also help strengthen your current relationships or increase sales success (more on both later).
Some researchers even argue that smiling makes you appear a few years younger than you are, although there are contradictory studies to prove the opposite. When research can prove both sides of the discussion like this, it basically means that our mindset plays a big role in the matter.
Whichever version you choose to believe, becomes your own truth. So it definitely won’t hurt to accept that your cute smile makes you look younger and to stop hiding it from the world!
4. Smiling increases productivity
Another study published in the same journal shows that smiling leads to “broadened cognitive states”. Specifically, there was evidence of increased breadth and flexibility of attention while doing various cognitive tasks.
Knowing that smiling can do this gives us a useful tool for boosting our productivity, both in day-to-day work and on highly stressful occasions like exams, job interviews, or public speaking.
Moreover, in this study, participants who practiced a Duchenne smile showed better results than the ones who were doing a mouth-only fake smile. This gives us another reason to make ourselves happier if we want to be able to consistently get things done!
5. Smiling is contagious
If you ever heard someone mentioning that smiling is contagious, it wasn’t just a saying.
Apparently, we often unconsciously mimic other people’s emotions to better understand their feelings: that’s one of our brain’s superpowers. So if someone is telling you a sad story, you might unknowingly copy their facial expression to empathize and relate to their feelings. This means that smiling at strangers has a good chance of bringing up a smile in response, which is particularly great for social interactions and public speaking gigs.
And as we already learned earlier, smiling has the power to improve your mood and decrease your pain. Isn’t an opportunity to uplift someone and help them have a wonderful day a good enough reason to smile?
6. Smiling makes your relationship stronger
We know now that smiling makes you appear more attractive and potentially helps to start a new relationship, but are there any positive “side effects” of smiling that can also affect our current relationships? Researchers seem to think there are.
First of all, when you always show up with a genuine smile on your face, it naturally attracts other positive people into your life. At the same time, some might be repelled by your evident happiness, which helps you avoid toxic friendships and save yourself from being hurt by bad relationships.
Second of all, smiling appears to strengthen your marriage. In 2004, researchers observed 79 couples and calculated that the average positivity ratio in lasting satisfying marriages was about six times higher. This basically tells us that having recurring positive emotions together is crucial for the longevity and quality of your relationship.
There are plenty of ways to bring more joy into your relationship. Find a common hobby or a fun game to play together, have long walks without gadgets, or go on spontaneous road trips where you’ll get a chance to talk and smile more. And if you don’t seem to find topics to talk about anymore, thousands of couples report that conversation starters help a lot with that.
Finally, an interesting study published in the Motivation and Emotion journal showed a clear correlation between smiling and happy marriages. People who were smiling in their early adulthood photographs were less likely to be divorced at some point in their lives. And the less intense the smile, the more likely the divorce.
I think all this evidence is convincing enough to smile more on a daily basis, whether you already found your soulmate or are still looking.
7. Smiling relieves stress faster
In the world we live in, it’s virtually impossible to avoid day-to-day stress completely. From high expectations to unnecessary worrying, most of us are constantly overstressed and don’t dedicate nearly enough time to restorative self-care activities.
While a few moments of smiling won’t give you as much stress relief as a long bath, a spa weekend, or a peaceful walk in nature, it’s definitely better than doing nothing. Researchers from the University of Kansas looked into the effects of smiling on stressed people and discovered that people who smile recover noticeably faster after stressful events compared to those who don’t.
If smiling feels inappropriate in some situations, find a place where nobody can see you or judge you. Take a minute to support your mental health, put a smile on your face, and tell yourself it’s gonna be ok. The combination of smiling and positive self-talk should instantly calm you down and lower your cortisol level so you can go on with your day in a more peaceful state of mind.
8. Smiling makes you appear more trustworthy
Whether you work in sales, speak in front of big audiences, or just want to make new friends, a genuine smile is going to be your best friend!
A study that observed actual witnesses testifying in court was trying to identify whether or not smiling affected their credibility. Turns out, the presence of smiling actually contributes to the likeability and perceived trustworthiness of a witness, even more so with female participants.
And when it comes to looking for a new job, failure to smile appears to be the second most common body language mistake, according to the CareerBuilder survey. Smiling naturally makes you appear more confident, which can be perceived as more competent and professional. It also makes you more likable, which might be just what you need to stand out in a sea of job applicants and finally land that dream job.
9. Positive people live longer
It’s not easy to track the effects of smiling or anything else on longevity as it takes a lot of time and involves countless other factors that may influence the results of a study.
However, to date, several groups of researchers had somehow managed to link a positive attitude to living a longer life. First, there was a nun study: in 1930, a group of young adult nuns was asked to write autobiographies that several decades later were evaluated in a positive psychology context. Unsurprisingly, researchers found that the nuns with positive attitudes who used cheerful wording in their writing outlived the others.
Recent studies also show repeatedly that there is a correlation between longevity and positive thinking, especially if you add encouraging self-talk and other positive exercises to your daily routine. They also prove that genetics plays only a tiny role in one’s positive outlook, which means you can’t blame your negative attitude on your parents anymore. It’s up to you to stop complaining and commit to being a positive person from now on!
Finally, we don’t really need studies to tell us that happy people who are genuinely positive and have plenty of reasons to smile don’t take their own lives. But did you know that people are more inclined to commit suicide around their birthday? Birthday depression is a real thing, so it’s important to keep track of your mental health and find ways to make yourself happy if you feel birthday blues.
10. Smiling can reduce face fat
As if all the previous reasons weren’t enough, here is a bonus benefit of smiling: it reduces the amount of extra fat in your face, making it slimmer and more toned.
If you look up face-lifting exercises that can naturally keep your facial muscles in a good shape, you’ll find that they often include some kind of smiling. This may seem counterintuitive as smiling is known to contribute to mimic wrinkles, but recent studies prove that facial yoga can actually decrease cheek fullness and make you appear younger, as long as you stay consistent with exercises.
Obviously, smiling alone won’t make you lose a substantial amount of weight, probably even if you smile 24/7. But with so many positive benefits, it can help you stay motivated to workout and stick to your new healthy habits, which will be inevitably reflected in your face, body, and mental health.
Final thoughts on reasons to smile
These were my ten backed-by-science reasons to smile! Hopefully, you learned something new and will now want to add more intentional smiling into your days. Make sure to also read my collection of reasons-to-smile quotes!
If you read this whole article with a serious face, it’s time to give yourself a break, relax your facial muscles, and maybe smile a little. You now have more than enough reasons to do it!