– 5 MINUTE READ –
So where did this whole article on smiling start? Funny story……
I have this friend who is one of those people. You know the ones, they are super popular, easy to talk to and everyone wants to be around them. This guy just seems to cruise through life and have a ball doing it. So I decided to ask him what his secret was. We discussed a lot of different things, but one thing that really surprised me was that he believed smiling was his secret weapon.
This sounded too simple to be true, so I decided to do some research. There are lots of studies out there that actually prove something as simple as smiling, will have a massive impact on your life.
1.) People will like you
In his book How to make friends and influence people, Dale Carnegie says the following:
“Your smile is a messenger of your good will. Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it. To someone who has seen a dozen people frown, scowl or turn their faces away, your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds.”
“Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, “I like you, You make me happy. I am glad to see you.” That is why dogs make such a hit. They are so glad to see us that they almost jump out of their skins. So, naturally, we are glad to see them.”
So next time you see an old friend or you greet someone at work, smile. You will make their day better and they will instantly like you more. Studies have shown that more that 50% of people will also smile back at you, which will make them feel better and get them to associate feeling good with you.
Researchers found that it takes 2,000 bars of chocolate or about $25,000 dollars to beat out the mood boosting values of one smile. They used an electromagnetic brain scan machine and heart rate monitor to establish “mood-boosting values” for various brain stimuli. They discovered that smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in very powerful and surprising ways.
2.) You will make yourself happier
Smiling is the same as Prozac, it also releases serotonin in your brain. The best part is that it doesn’t even have to be a genuine smile. Scientists have found that when the facial muscles in the face are contracted in a smile , a physical releases of dopamine and serotonin occurs in the brain.
People who were forced to smile by holding a pencil in their mouths experienced the same benefits as people who had real smiles.
So if you are feeling down, fake a big massive grin. It will make you feel better. Just don’t over do it.
3.) You will live longer
Smiling can make you live longer? I couldn’t believe that this one was true.
It turns out that researchers from Wayne State University, Michigan looked at 230 pictures of major league baseball players from 1952. They found that the biggest grinners lived to an average of 79.9 years, while their straight-faced peers reached just 72.9 years on average.
If this isn’t enough for you, smiling also boosts your immune system. The Department of Clinical Immunology at Loma Linda University School of Medicine found that, when smiling, cortisol levels (stress level) decrease and, instead, the number of white blood cells and natural killer cells increases. So if you want to fight off a nasty cold in the future, forget going to the pharmacy. Just smile!
4.) Smiling reduces the effect of pain
It was found that people who smiled while getting an injection reported up to 40% less pain than people who didn’t.
What makes this study even more interesting is the fact that the test subjects weren’t told to smile. The researchers told them the study was on multitasking and they wanted to keep the subjects occupied with a muscular task by holding chopsticks in their mouth in different positions. The volunteers didn’t know that these chopsticks were being carefully arranged to produce very specific types of smiles.
When you think about this, it makes sense, because smiling releases endorphins which are natural pain relievers.
Bring on those injections doc, I have a smile waiting for you.
5.) It makes you more successful
Now we’re going down the rabbit hole. How can smiling predict your success?
Dacher Keltner and LeeAnne Harker, from the University of California at Berkeley, looked at the photographs of the women that had been taken for the college yearbook when they were in their early twenties.
Nearly all the women were smiling.
However, when the researchers carefully examined the images, they noticed that about half of the photographs showed a fake smile and the other half, a genuine smile. They then went back to the information that had been provided by the women throughout their lives, and they discovered something remarkable.
Compared to the women with fake smiles, those displaying the genuine smiles were significantly more likely to be married, to stay married, to be happier, and to enjoy better health throughout their lives.
This might seem a bit confusing, because we were just saying that fake smiles are good for you, but this is where the distinction comes in. You can still get the personal physical benefits from faking a smile, but most people will be able to tell that you are faking the smile (actually more than 60% of them will). The French physician, Guillaume Duchenne, first coined the term “Duchenne Smile”. This is a truly authentic smile and it turns out, its all in the eyes. In a fake smile people only use their mouths to smile and you can often see their bottom teeth. In a “Duchenne Smile” the muscles around their eyes actually contract and you can see crows feet.
A Penn State University study confirmed that when we smile we not only appear more likeable and courteous, but we’re actually perceived to be more competent. All of this will definitely have an impact on your success in the long run.
6.) Makes you more attractive
Who would you rather approach in a bar? The girl/guy with the massive smile on their face or the one that seems to be a deep and tormented soul.
Well researchers actually went out and found the answer to that question. A study from 1985 examined how men approached women in bars: when a woman made eye-contact she was 20% approachable, while adding a smile made her 60% more accessible. On top of that, it also makes you look an average of 3 years younger. The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear youthful.
In a different study researchers tried to determine what smiles actual signal to the world.They found that a woman’s smile signals warmth, whereas for men, smiling signals confidence and a lack of self doubt.
So ladies if you want to seem more approachable and gents if you want to seem more confident, just smile…..
7.) Your smile might prevent a bank robbery
This is a weird one(and I absolutely love it!!).
FBI Special Agent Larry Carr says that Excessive friendliness is the key to deterring potential bank robbers. Carr teaches bank tellers to spot potential bank robbers and proactively approach them by being overly friendly. The teller might say something like: “Good afternoon! “I don’t think I’ve seen you in this branch before. If you’re here to open a new account, I can take your ID and help you at my desk.”
If the person is a potential bank robber this just might unnerve them enough to think twice and if they are a legitimate customer they just think its great customer service.
Carr, who has taught the method to employees at 16 Washington banks over the past few years,credits the system in part for the drop in Seattle bank robberies from 80 in the first three months of 2006 to 44 during the same period in the following year.
If I were a bank robber and everyone was SUPER nice to me, I would feel a little bit bad robbing that bank. Might as well go down the street to that other bank where everyone is mean and rather rob them.
So how can I improve my smile?
Ok you convinced me about this smiling thing, now how do I get better at it.
Firstly smile slower. One hundred participants were shown different types of smiles (slow versus fast onset) in combination with three forms of head-tilt (none, left, or right). The smiles were rated for perceived attractiveness, trustworthiness, dominance as well as flirtatiousness and authenticity. Slow onset smiles led to more positive evaluations of the smiles.
Imagine a situation of joy when you smile. This advice comes from researcher Andrew Newberg. People can easily tell whether a smile is fake or real and when they perceive a smile to be fake they will easily lose trust in you. Make sure you give genuine caring smiles when you greet someone or in any other situation.
Practice your smile. Leo Widrich gives great advice in his Buffer article:
“Stand in front of the mirror and smile. Practice to activate both your mouth corners and your eye sockets. You will know whenever your smile is genuine, because you will immediately feel happy and relaxed. The power of a smile, even practiced in the mirror is that it can invoke the emotion immediately.”
Smiling is easy and fun to do . It’s one of those things that is good for you and the rest of the world. It really doesn’t even take that much effort. We are all a little lonely sometimes and giving someone a smile might change their entire day. The nice thing is that smiling gives back to you as well. So it really is a win win for everyone.
In the end if smiling doesn’t work for you, just remember Al Capone’s advice:
“You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun.”