Community Talks! Vol. 1, ep. 15.
Spring is definitely here, and summer is just around the corner! 🌞 It brings a lightness to our moods and energizes our minds and bodies. However cheesy (pun intended) it might sound - let it out with a smile! Why? Let me tell you!
I think we all know and agree that being greeted with a smile from someone has a positive effect on how the conversation is going to progress. It simply makes us feel happier, both in general and about the other person. I know at least I have some colleagues around the office that just boosts the overall atmosphere by their mere smiley presence. But did you know that smiling, even if forced, can also increase your own happiness to some degree?
This is known as the ‘facial feedback hypothesis’, originating in 1872. In 1988 a team of psychologists conducted an experiment to understand how facial expressions, particularly smiles, can impact their feelings. In the test, the participants were tasked with reading a comic strip and then evaluate how funny it was. They were divided into two groups – Group A was to read the comic as usual, while Group B had to read it with a pen stuck horizontally in their mouths. The idea was that the pen would place the mouth in an upward position, forcing it to a more smiley-ish state. Weird, right?
Anyway, the results showed that the participants in Group B would deem the comic to be funnier than the ones in Group A! This tells us that the facial expressions we make also have an impact on our own feelings, and not just being a result of them. One could argue that people with jobs where they are expected to constantly smile are not in general happier, which is true (also known as ‘emotional labor’), however, that would be the extreme case where it goes beyond self-connection and more into acting.
So, what can we learn from this? A fake smile might not be the way to drizzle that happiness around you, but when you have the slightest reason to smile – BRING IT OUT! Show it to the world and share it with the people around you! There is a win in there for everyone! Can you think of any reasons to smile today? 😄
PS! Apparently, a study also showed that smiling makes you look cool 😎 So there is that too.
Inspirational credit: Dumma Människor podcast – “118. Say cheese (leendets psykologi)”
Strack, Martin & Stepper (1998). “Inhibiting and facilitating conditions of the human smile: A nonobtrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis.”*
Warren, Pezzuti, & Koley (2018). “Is Being Emotionally Inexpressive Cool?”
*this was disproved with a replica study in 2016, but that in turn was disproved by another replica study later on.
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