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10 Scientifically Proven Ways To Become A Happier Person [5/10]

Smile Like You Mean It-Scientifically Proven Ways To Become A Happier Person

Smile Like You Mean It

Before you say no one likes a fake who is smiling when they’re actually miserable, hear these researchers out. Smiling is not just a response to feeling happy—it can also make us happy. Our physical response to our feelings in turn affects our emotional states, and for many of us, it is easier to control our facial muscles than it is to control our minds. This theory was originally named the “facial feedback hypothesis” and many studies have been undertaken to test the reality behind the façade.

Researchers at the University of Cardiff in Wales studied people who had Botox injections and experienced  difficulty frowning as a result of paralyzed facial muscles. Those who had did reported higher levels of joy than people who had no problem frowning, regardless of their actual levels of self-confidence. The researchers point to this as proof of the mind-body connection when it comes to happiness—if frowning can make you feel sadder, smiling can make you feel happier.

The reason this works is because your facial muscles give direct neurological feedback to your brain. If you are smiling, the muscle combination that is in use is associated with happiness and your brain receives those signals. That will spark some of those great happy feelings because your brain realizes that smiling has to do with joy. If your smile is particularly big, you’ll be working your orbicularis oculi, the muscle in the corner of your eyes. When this muscle gets flexed, your brain is even more convinced that you should be feeling good, because that muscle is only used when you are truly smiling.

Keep in mind that suppressing negative emotions was not shown to improve long-term happiness, and being emotionally stifled can have negative effects in other areas of our lives. It’s important to express negative emotions, but trying to crack a smile can make you feel better when you aren’t feeling so great.

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