Smiling is something that everyone does and is often associated with happiness. Yes, smiling is used to show our emotions, but it so much more than that. The University of Kansas conducted a study involving 170 college students to test whether smiling has a positive impact on our mood and health. The students were randomly assigned to three groups, all of which had the students mimic a research assistant holding chopsticks between their teeth, however each group was mimicking different actions. Of the three groups, one had the students genuinely smile while the other two partook in fake smiles all while continuing to hold the chopsticks in between their teeth. Next, the students were asked to perform stressful tasks while researchers monitored their heart rates from beginning to end. In addition, the researchers asked the students to describe their mood before and after completing the tasks. The researchers found that heart rate rose while completing the stressful tasks, however the heart rate of smilers went back down to normal faster than those who forced their smiles. In addition, when the students reported their moods to the researchers, those who were smiling had a smaller decrease in mood than those who forced their smiles. The conclusion of the study was that smiling genuinely reduces stress while performing stressful tasks as well as helps the body recover quickly after the event.
Researchers have been continuously examining what makes smiling so good for you. They believe it is good for your brain as smiling releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. Endorphins can relieve pain and serotonin is thought to be a mood lifter. In addition to smiling being good for your own health, it is also good for the health of others. A Swedish study showed participants a picture of someone showing an emotion, such as joy and sadness. The researchers then asked the participants to show the opposite emotion of what the picture shows. For example, if the picture should someone frowning, they asked the participants to smile, and vice versa. The researchers found that instead of doing the opposite of the picture, the subjects mimicked the images and then had to consciously correct their expression to be the opposite of the image. This then lead researchers to the conclusion that if you smile at somebody they will most likely smile back.
All in all, smiling makes you healthier, as well as those around you because they are likely to return a smile. Also, it is believed that seeing somebody else smile activates the orbitofrontal cortex of the brain which actually makes people feel rewarded. Furthermore, it can be concluded that smiling is good for our health and we should all try to smile more.
Kennelly, By Stacey. “Smile! It’s Good for Your Heart.” Greater Good. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016. <http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/smile_its_good_for_your_heart
“There’s Magic In Your Smile.” Psychology Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile>
“Good Reasons to Smile.” KidsHealth – the Web’s Most Visited Site about Children’s Health. The Nemours Foundation, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016. <http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/smiling.html>