Smiling is one of the innate responses that distinguish people, the most well-known expression of happiness and delight, but also of fear or anxiety. Because there are numerous grins — up to 18, according to the renowned psychologist, anthropologist, and facial expressions researcher Paul Ekman — but not all of them correspond to happy emotions.

Next, we investigate the power of the grin as explained by psychology, highlighting the different physical, psychological, and social benefits that the smile provides to the human person while avoiding the negative impacts of the phony smile.

Pioneers in the Study of Smile

Guillaume Duchenne, a French anatomist, was one of the pioneers in the research of facial expressions, with a focus on the investigation of the grin. In his 1862 book Mechanisme de la Physionomie Humaine, Duchenne lay the framework for the physical and psychological study of the grin, despite his controversial techniques (it is alleged that he used the severed heads of criminals to investigate the effects of electric currents on facial emotions).

This investigation resulted in the coinage of the phrase “Duchenne grin” as a synonym for an honest smile that is connected with joy and contentment and which, on a physical level, requires the use of both the mouth and eye muscles. . This distinction cleared the path for distinguishing between genuine and “fake” smiles.

According to Duchenne, the type of grin may be identified by looking into the eyes: a false smile is produced by voluntary muscle activity, whereas a genuine smile is the result of an impulse from the basal ganglia of the brain in response to limbic processes. In other words, the lips can lie but not the eyes.

Carney Landis, a psychology student at the University of Minnesota, produced a widely-discussed study in 1924 in which he failed to explicitly link smiling with the expression of good feelings, deeming it a “perennial response, typical of any circumstance.”

Paul Ekman compiled these earlier studies and advocated the examination of human facial expressions, concluding that all humans smile in comparable settings regardless of culture, based on studies such as the one he conducted on a New Guinea tribe that had limited interaction with the West.

Physical and Psychological Benefits of Smiling

Ron Gutman, an entrepreneur in tech and health care and a professor at Stanford, says that “one smile can give you the same amount of stimulation as 2,000 chocolate bars.” Even though some people would rather pick up the bars than smile, this is still a very clear way to show the physical and mental benefits of smiling, starting with how the brain works.

Endorphins, serotonin, and other natural painkillers are released when you smile, just as they are released when you exercise or do something else that makes you feel good. In the same way, smiling lowers the levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline itself. And if you don’t believe it, try it yourself: when you’re in a stressful situation, sit down, relax, and try to think of something good or smile. You’ll see that the way you see the situation changes.

Along the same lines, smiling is one of the things we can do to help us calm down. Smiling relaxes and puts things in perspective, which is why a smile can calm down a tense situation.

In this way, smiling is a good way to avoid sadness and depression because it makes you feel happy and good. In this way, smiling is also a great way to keep our bodies in balance. Smiling is a way to bring our bodies and minds back into balance.

Social Benefits of Smiling

Smiling makes us more appealing on the outside and on the inside. A study from the University of Rochester looked at how 100 college students judged people’s physical attractiveness by showing them different photos of people. The study found that people who smile are seen as more attractive.

Undoubtedly, a smile has the power to make people fall in love with you. But on a social level, a smile is also a sign of trustworthiness, sincerity, and calm. In this way, the smile is also linked to charisma, which is something we often see in people who are in the public eye a lot, like politicians or actors. And it’s also true that a smile makes you seem more trustworthy, though it depends on the situation.

The smile is, of course, also contagious, which has many positive effects on our relationships with others and creates a kind of emotional feedback. When we see people smile around us, it makes us feel better, and when other people see us smile, it makes them feel better, too.

An interesting study looked at what people do in public when they see other people smiling or frowning, or when they see themselves smiling. “More than half of the subjects responded with a smile to a smile from a stranger, while few responded to a frown with a frown,” the study said. Of course, a smile can be taken the wrong way in some situations, but in general, it’s nice to be smiled at, even by strangers.

The Negative Effects of a Fake Smile

As we said at the start of this article, there are many kinds of smiles, and not all of them mean happiness, joy, or laughter. There are also smiles that show fear, shame, politeness, deception, or artifice. That is, to smile as a defense mechanism or to pretend and lie, which comes to be called “posing” in our time.

In this way, it’s important to remember the studies done on the origin of this facial expression in apes: experts say that bonobo chimpanzees smile when they’re scared, which is a sign of submission by lower-status members of the group to reassure the group’s leaders. If this line of research continues, the first smile a person would make would not be one of happiness but of fear.

In this way, there would be a natural smile that comes from within and a cultural smile that is learned and used on purpose as a social and communication tool. This second kind of smile at work has been studied, and the results are very important.

Researchers at Michigan State University looked at the behavior of bus drivers, who talk to and smile at a lot of people every day. They found that when workers smiled less, their mood went down quickly. Don’t be afraid, too many fake smiles to hide bad feelings are counterproductive. Don’t feel like you have to smile all the time if you don’t feel like it.

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