• Love Your Smile this Valentine’s Day

  • Why should you love your smile? According to a 2019 paper published in Psychological Bulletin, smiling can make people feel happier. 

    A team of psychologists from Texas A&M and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville used data from 138 studies that had over 11,000 participants. They found that our feelings really are impacted by facial expressions. 

    They used meta-analysis to combine data from these studies that had been done all over the world. What they found is that it’s not just smiling that makes people feel happier – other facial expressions affect how we feel too. Frowning makes people feel sadder and scowling makes people feel angrier. 

    And it’s not only you who is affected. Smiling not only has an effect on your mood but on others as well. Both you and the people seeing you smile feel happier. This adds to a positive feedback loop in your brain. The reward mechanisms in our brains are stimulated by smiling and encourages us to smile more often. 

    Stress on your mind and body is reduced by smiling, like getting a good night’s sleep. In turn, stress-induced hormones that negatively affect mental and physical health are decreased by smiling. 

    But this doesn’t mean you should go around with a fake smile on your face. Subconsciously our brains distinguish between real and fake smiles. Here is how you can practice genuinely smiling more: 

    1. Image

    Think about something, someone, or a moment that brought you joy before you engage with other people. 

    2. Practice

    Exercise smiling in front of a mirror. Try to activate the two main facial muscles that are involved in genuine smiles – those are the muscles around the corners of your mouth and the ones around your eye sockets. 

    3. Relax

    Don’t think of smiling a lot as a weakness. It might make you feel vulnerable expressing emotions more often, but it will make you stronger in the long run. 

    Be sure to brush twice a day, floss, and visit the dentist regularly to love your smile back!