We all know that a smile usually means we’re happy. But why do we smile and why do we feel better when we smile? These questions have been the subject of many scientific studies over the years.
As silly as it may seem, the reason we smile and the happiness we feel when we smile are actually related. In fact, they are the action of smiling and the emotion of happiness are reciprocal. The inward emotion of happiness triggers receptors in our brains that control the muscles in our face that make us smiles. Smiling is, therefore, an involuntary response to happiness. Smiling reinforces this happiness. It makes the feeling of happiness even stronger, which is why we feel better when we smile.
Everyone knows that feeling happy feels good. What are the benefits of being happy other than feeling good? Below are some reasons we all should smile more often, and therefore be happier:
Be more photogenic. According to a Psychology Today article, being happy and therefore tightening up the zygomatic major muscles (the facial muscles that cause smiles) gives those muscles much needed work. While smiles may produce those “crow’s feet” wrinkles and creases around the eyes, you face at least will appear tighter and firmer than those who don’t smile. Genuine smiles (the ones where your eyes squint) were also shown to actually make for better pictures by not making your smile appear fake. Fake smiles are easily identified as they don’t produce the squinted eyes nor the creases around your eyes (caused by the orbicularis oculi) like genuine ones do. If you want to appear genuinely happy in your pictures, don’t fake it.
Greater brain activity. Those who smile, and are happy, have more activity in their brains than those who don’t because it takes more work to smile. Your brain controls the muscles in your body and smiling involves muscle movement. Having more muscles to control will give your brain a better workout. The parts of your brain, particularly the amygdala, hypothalamus and parts of the brain stem, are activated when your brain senses happiness and the need to send the message to your facial smiling muscles.
Make others feel better. We’ve all heard that smiling, like yawning, is contagious. We smile when someone around us smiles. When we smile, we feel better.
Feel less pain. Those who are happy and smile, feel less pain than those who frown. The pain experienced is also less intense. According to a Scientific American article, test subjects who were unhappy felt more pain after a medical procedure than those who were happy.
Will better other aspects in your life. Just like negativity can flow into other areas of life, and therefore make you feel unhappy, ruin your relationships and cause you to act out in destructive ways, happiness can help you see other aspects of your life in a positive way. Psychologist Judith Grob of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands published a study on the pervasiveness negativity can have in all aspects of one’s life, indicating that a negative attitude or bottling up your pleasant emotions not only cause problems for you, but also for others.
Smiling is therefore, can make a huge difference in your life and in the lives of those around you. At Hazzouri Dental, we provide a wide range of restorative and cosmetic dental services to make your smile the best it can be. You don’t have to hide your happiness, or your smile any longer due to not-so-great teeth. Contact us today for an appointment and let your infectious happiness shine.