The Shortest Path To Happiness Starts With A Smile
Do happy people smile more, or are people who smile happier?
The answer is that both are true. When we are content or we feel happy, we are more tuned into the good things and beauty in our surroundings, and this state is reflected in our face through a smile.
What’s curious is that this also happens in reverse: the more we smile, even if it is forced at first, the happier we feel.
“Never forget to smile, because the day you don’t smile is a lost day.”
Smiling improves our mood
An experiment carried out by Fritz Strack showed that smiling leads to better mood. The experiment was made up of two groups of people who were shown humorous comic strips. In one of these groups, the people were holding a pencil with their teeth so that their lips were stretched into the shape of a smile while the other group kept a neutral expression.
The results showed that those who were smiling before found the comics funnier; that is to say, they had a stronger tendency to be in a good mood.
This is explained by the fact that the brain, upon perceiving the muscles of our face in the shape of a smile, interprets them as a sign that we are happy, independent of the cause, and responds with positive moods.
The mind works “by tendencies.” When we are sad or angry, in general, we interpret what is happening to us in a more negative way and we tend to remember and think about negative events, whereas when we are happy, we interpret things in a more positive light and we find more positive memories and thoughts.
So “forcing yourself” to smile can be a good way to prompt our body to find happier states, which also feed off of one another.
This is just one of the reasons that the smile is the first step towards happiness; there are more.
A smile is contagious
We live in a stressful world where we regularly run across many people, but we barely take notice of them: the baker, the bus driver, the doctor, the cashier at the supermarket…
In these daily situations, being friendly and flashing a smile can bring about a subtle, but very important change over time. An irrelevant encounter turns into a pleasant encounter.
Mirror neurons cause us to imitate the behavior of those around us. Just like when we find ourselves with an aggressive person, our inner reaction is to automatically become defensive.
If we go out with a smile already on our face, what will likely happen in most cases is that our smile will be returned, which gives us a better sense of well being and inner peace.
There’s a reason that one of the first things that babies learn to do is return the smiles that they are given by their mothers or other people who are close to them.
We are programmed to interpret the smile as a sign of security and to return it, creating a connection that communicates the idea that “this is a safe place where you do not have to be defensive.”
A small gesture, like a smile, can have a decisive influence on the atmosphere that is created between people.
“If someone is too tired to give you a smile, leave one of your own, because no one needs a smile as much as those who have none to give.”
A smile is the first step towards laughter
There is nothing more fun than seeing a baby laughing. If you have ever stood before one, you will have noticed that even the most serious adult cannot avoid smiling and even ends up laughing when a baby does it.
Laughter, like smiling, in addition to being an expression of happiness, is a form of communication that indicates that we are in a safe and friendly atmosphere.
Knowing how to laugh at your circumstances and yourself is essential for not drowning in our problems and finding a way to keep our heads above water.
A laugh at the right moment can break even the greatest of tensions. Laughing breaks down the barriers of unhappiness and brings us closer to happiness.
“Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.”
It is not just because we feel good when we laugh, but also because laughing brings us together. Many good friendships have been built on evenings of laughter, and it’s important that romantic partners can laugh together. In fact, one of the first games that we play with children is tickling them so that they will laugh.
Laughing with someone creates a connection, and these connections, good relationships in which you feel comfortable, are absolutely indispensable for being happy.
So as long as we remember to paint a smile on our faces, we will not only keep feeling happier ourselves, but we will be transmitting happiness, and who knows, maybe also building the foundation of a relationship.