Across generations, a smile is one of the most universally recognised facial expressions to express a positive feeling toward an object or an action. It is contagious happiness that can spread to anyone. Smiles denote pleasure, sociability, happiness, joy and amusement.
However, sometimes the world may not go as you planned. We find ourselves putting up a fake expression to demonstrate our positive reaction toward a situation that is not in our favor.
We understand that hiding our expression behind a smile may not seem good for our mental health if it causes us to reject and not process difficult feelings. But when you are faking a smile, there are some benefits that we don’t see! Here at Locum Press, we are happy to share five surprising benefits of faking a smile that you may not realize.
What makes a real smile?
Real smiles usually employ the orbicularis oculi muscle. This muscle causes the eyes to close, movements in the upper face and area around the eyes and show visible teeth. With these movements together, they convey a genuine smile. While you are smiling, your brain will release endorphins to make you relax from stress and interestingly enough, help you become happier.
So real smiles breed further smiles!
Let’s first dive deep to learn more about endorphins and facial mirroring.
Endorphins play a role in our overall wellbeing by warding off pain and perpetuating pleasure. It may not create a rush, a high, or a burst of happiness. But with serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine mixed with endorphins, it truly becomes the source of feeling happy.
The facial mirroring can be obtained directly from another person through observation, listening to his comments or watching a video. The human instinct for facial mimicry allows us to empathize with and even experience other people’s feelings. This could mean that when you smile, those around you smile as well. When you see them smiling, you continue to smile! What a great phenomenon.
This also explains why it is easier to get angry or sad if someone else is also feeling the same.
5 Surprising benefits of faking a smile
Faking a smile helps you smile for real!
Smiling changes the way you feel! Smiling release endorphins that help you fight off stress. You may think fake smiling is not the same as real smiling. But the moment when your lips curl into a smile, fake or not, your brain reacts from your facial expression and releases endorphins to help you keep up the smile.
Faking a smile helps others smile as well!
From the perspective of others, smiling helps others release endorphins through facial mimicry. When people see your facial expression, they may consciously or unconsciously mimic them.
Therefore, when you are smiling. People may unconsciously smile back to you. Which is why we can all agree that the smile is contagious.
Faking a smile lowers your heart rate after accomplishing a difficult task!
As you are faking your smile, the endorphins released help you relieve stress and allows your body to relax. During the process, it lowers your heart rate to accomplish the feeling of stress relief. Therefore, it becomes one good way to let your body relax while being conscious.
The next time you start to feel stress build up, take a moment to smile! It’ll do wonders for your heart.
Faking a smile helps you think differently!
Studies found the people who force to smile found high satisfaction in working through an unpleasant task compared to people who frown.
When you are working on a task that you may not enjoy, faking a smile may trick your brain to feel something entirely different.
Therefore, it changes your perspective into a positive one as endorphins are released while you are smiling.
Using Botox can make it difficult for you to identify the emotions of others
Studies have found that those with Botox use experienced minimised facial expressions. They then become less able to correctly identify the expression of others when faced with a facial expression test..
From the results of such study, it was found that the percentage of correct answers on identifying positive emotion in others fell from 77% (Pre-Botox) to 73.8% (Post-Botox). Meanwhile, the percentage of correct answers on negative emotion fell from 78.8% Pre-Botox to 68.8% Post-Botox. Considering how these are the same people, it is truly remarkable that being able to identify emotions is so linked to our ability to display these emotions.
The people who have their facial expression freezes may find difficulty in understanding other emotions due to the lack of facial mimicry.
Faking a smile, however does not remove the ability to feel negative emotion from others but merely decreases one’s ability to identify the negative emotion. Therefore, keeping up a smile to prevent facial mimicry may help you decrease the negative atmosphere from other individuals.
In the end, humans are social animals. We need to socialize with other people in order to survive. One of the best social interactions is smiling as it benefits you and benefits everybody around you. We can smile privately whenever we need to, but why not extend that benefit to those around you by smiling in public?
With the spread of COVID-19, we understand that many of us need to wear face masks, preventing our smiles from being seen. This is when smiling so broadly that they reach your eyes can hopefully generate these same responses!