“It takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown!” This is a common expression used to encourage people to look at the bright side and focus on the positive. But what if the physical act of smiling actually had a positive effect on your brain? Research says that it just might! Start this Monday with a smile to give your brain a pick-me-up!
The Facial Feedback Hypothesis, or the theory that facial expressions have a direct correlation with emotions and vice versa, has its supporters and detractors but it is still widely believed that even a fake smile can improve your mood almost immediately. While attempts to prove exactly why smiling feels so good have had mixed results, people put to the test seem to continue to report an elevation in how they feel when they smile. One thing that cannot be disputed is that the brain knows when you are smiling and holds on to the positive memories associated with smiling. This means that even when your smile is faked and not coming from a positive place, your brain remembers that this muscular action has been associated with something positive from the past and reactivates those emotions.
One thing that does happen when smiling is a release of tension, easing stress and anxiety. Smiling may redirect you to a more positive direction and help you let go of a source of negativity. Think of it as a positive muscle memory – your brain remembers that when you smile you’re experiencing something good. By using your smiling muscles, you can transport yourself back to that positive place!
Smiling is also contagious! If you smile, you may elevate the mood of the people around you. You will also appear to others to be more “likeable, courteous, and even competent.” When you walk into work on Monday, you can be the person who sets the tone for your whole office by walking in with a smile!
Need help finding a reason to smile? Talk to someone you know can make you laugh or look on the internet for something that always brings a smile to your face. If you’re able, set a photo that you love as your computer desktop so it will always be handy! Make that the first thing you do Monday morning to make you smile!