A smile is a universal facial expression that signifies, pleasure, kindness, sociability, happiness, joy or amusement. There are hundreds of articles citing studies that conclude that smiling can actually make you feel better. One study from Wayne State University even purports that smiling can help you live longer. Whether you believe the data or not, it’s really fun to try this experiment on your own.
Before we start, it has to be clarified that the experiment will not work unless you form a “genuine” smile. The experts say that a smile is not “genuine” unless the zygomatic major muscle and the orbicularis oculi are working together. In other words, you have to squint your eyes when you smile.
Here we go:
Think about how you feel right now at this exact moment in time.
Count to three.
One . . . two . . . three . . .
Hold it . . . Hold it . . . Keep smiling . . . Don’t stop.
Do you feel happier than you did a few seconds ago?
Our guess is that you answered yes, and you actually do feel better. We are being totally serious here. Try it again and really focus on the first feelings you get when you smile. Do you feel an intake of breath? Does your tongue rest on the back of your front teeth? Do your ears perk up? Is your mood instantly lightened somehow? Yes, yes, yes and yes. It really does work. Smiling is obviously not going to solve all your problems, but it really can make you feel a bit better.
A colleague of ours practices smiling while she is driving. She admits that she is an impatient, aggressive driver, and hates getting stuck in traffic. Whenever this happens, she physically holds her tongue on the back of her front teeth, squints, and smiles. (It’s not a toothy smile, because she doesn’t want to scare other drivers, but a nice closed mouth smile). The action visibly relaxes her and makes her feel better, every time.
Conduct another smile experiment on your own. Make it a point to smile randomly throughout your day. Don’t just smile at others, smile on your own. If you feel self conscious, don’t. People will not think you are odd for smiling randomly. In fact, the opposite is true. You’ll look more approachable. People will be more attracted to you. They may even be envious of you, wondering why you look so happy.
How can you look at that llama’s mug and not smile? Take our advice and channel the llama . . . smile more!