Can Smiling Make You Happy?

When you’re happy, you smile. So, if you smile will it make you happy?

According to studies, the answer to that is “Yes.”

More and more it’s coming out that the connection between the smile and the happiness is not a one-way street. The signals sent from your brain to your body to make you smile when you’re happy can also be used in reverse. Some studies even suggest that it’s the smile itself which comes first … that your happiness is in fact triggered by the smile, not the other way around.

I am not happy as I write this (romantic problems) so let’s try an experiment. I’m sitting here at Starbucks, sipping coffee and writing on my trusty Sony Clie, and I’m going to try to cheer myself up simply by smiling.

6:42 pm – Big fake smile on my face. Still feeling sad.

6:44 pm – Still wearing a big fake smile. I’m right in the window and people are walking by. I’m on display with this stupid grin on my face, and I’m feeling more than a little foolish.

6:45 pm – The smile is now genuine because it’s starting to become funny.

6:46 pm – I am really starting to feel like an idiot now, but it’s still funny and people are smiling back at me. And, yes, I definitely feel more cheerful than I did a few minutes ago. So it works for me.

Now let me take the experiment one step further. The next person who comes through the door frowning, I’m going to talk them into smiling.

Later now. My victim’s name was Dave, a nice guy about 40 years old, wearing glasses and talking with an Australian accent. He admitted he was feeling down because of his financial situation, so I convinced him to sit across from me and try the smiling experiment. We smiled at each other until he finally asked if I were gay or something (no, I told him, this is a real experiment). A few minutes later he was laughing, and I asked if it cheered him up … and he said yes.

So in this unscientific little test of mine, I have concluded that something about smiling does in fact lighten your mood. I know from prior experience that forcing yourself to laugh works as well, but you can’t really sit down by yourself in a public place and laugh for minutes on end without frightening people.

Let’s not end this here … why don’t you try it?  Maybe we can make this world a happier place one smile at a time.

 

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