Report Reveals Smiling More Actually Makes You Happier

Smiling can actually make you feel happier even if you’re feeling blue, according to multiple scientific reports.

You’ve heard of the phrase “fake it till you make it?” It’s usually handed down by middle managers looking to cheer up workers who are slowly being ground down beneath a corporate boot. It often sounds dismissive in that context, but you’d be surprised to find out that it’s actually good advice.

Smiling consciously rather than reflexively can actually help lift your spirits if you’re feeling down in the dump. In his latest TED e-Book, Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act, Ron Gutman details the science backing up the “fake it until you make it” philosophy and how it can actually help your mood.

One of Gutman’s biggest examples in the book is a British study where participants were scanned by both an MRI and an EKG to determine what affects certain stimuli had on the brain and heart. Researchers found that smiling activates the reward centers of the brain a lot more than anyone was expecting.

“How did the power of a smile stack up against other well-regarded pleasure-inducing sensations?” Gutman wrote. “Depending on whose smile you see, the researchers found that one smile can be as pleasurable and stimulating as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate … or receiving $25,000.”

We’re sure you’d rather have $25,000 than a big smile, but if you can’t have one, you might as well have the other.

Another study, this time at the University of München in Germany, proved the “fake it until you make it” smile. By similarly studying the effects of smiling on participants hooked up to an MRI machine, researchers found that the same neurons that activate when someone is genuinely happy also activate during a smile.

So smiling can help whenever you’re feeling down, but is smiling always the answer in every situation? Not so fast. While smiling can help your mood, it won’t necessarily get you laid.

A 2011 study at the University of British Columbia found that while women certainly like a smile, it’s not necessarily going to help a guy’s chances. Instead, scientists found that expressions of pride or even shame were more likely to get a girl to like you, depending on the type of guy she’s into.

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