Image: Marie Vonow
You smile when you feel happy but sometimes you can feel happy when you make a conscious effort to smile.
The other day I had worries on my mind and I wasn’t having a good day. I was in a shop when a stranger asked, ‘Are you having a good day?’ It seemed polite to lie so I said, ‘Yes, thanks. How about you?’ and I forced a smile. From that moment on my day improved. Things certainly weren’t perfect but I felt somewhat better.
There is a connection between smiling and feeling happy. When your brain tells you that you are feeling happy you smile without thinking.. It just happens. Then the action of the muscles involved in smiling gives your brain the message you are happy. It is like a loop.
The act of smiling can help reduce feelings of being stressed. Smiling helps reduce the levels of stress inducing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. When you smile more endorphins (stress reducing hormones) are released. Blood pressure is also reduced.
Children learn to smile by copying the people living in their home. The smile of a young child is very contagious. If a toddler in a shop smiles at you do you find yourself smiling back? Exchanging smiles with a baby or toddler can make waiting in a queue more pleasant.
Some research suggests the expression on your face while you are talking is even more important than the words you are speaking. However the words you are saying need to be consistent with the expression on your face. If you are firing an employee it is not going to help to smile as you do so. During a phone conversation, the listener will pick up that you are smiling as it will affect the tone of your voice.
When you smile, others around you are more likely to smile. Seeing others smiling encourages you to do likewise. However, a smile needs to look sincere to have a positive effect on others. The smile needs to show in your eyes as well as in the position of your lips.
Putting a smile on your face won’t fix everything. If you are feeling depressed rather than just a bit 'down' it may take more than making yourself smile to improve the way you feel. (You may need to consult your doctor.) Having said that, there are days when deciding to smile will make you feel happier.