The art of smiling: How facial expressions influence your mood

By Umurungi Gisele
On 21 December 2023 at 10:25

Have you ever felt the echoes of a baby’s laughter reverberating throughout the walls of the room? What did you feel? Did you sense your lips stretching as if they were demanding for a faint smile?

Maybe skip that, what about you? Have you ever laughed, maybe faking it, but felt some portions of happiness after some minutes?

Maybe it is not your first time hearing that a genuine smile can boost one’s happiness, because that is undoubtedly true. However, I am wondering what your facial expression will be if I tell you that a fake smile is equally helpful.

When I was 10, I knew a woman who used to make her children say ‘I love you’ to each other whenever she caught them fighting. At first, the children found it so awkward but as they continued, the act of saying ‘I love you’ softened their hearts and dissolved their frustration, and in the end, they would start saying it naturally. This wise woman has taught me that faking something, or maybe putting efforts into something, for a given period of time can eventually make it a reality.

Just like those kids, like how that fake ‘I love you’ that turned real, that’s how letting out a smile, be it real or fake, can be as helpful as taking your sad kid to amusement parks, doll shops or any other place that helps to boost their happiness.

If you’re a social media person, or engage in social networks, you might have seen a video about practicing laughing. It gave steps like starting with a single ‘ha’, then ‘haha’, ‘hahaha’, just like that, and after 10 ‘ha’s, you’d find yourself laughing naturally.

Do you think it’s a backward idea? Happiness is normally what makes us smile, but how can it really be the other way around? I also thought so, but in the end, science proved me wrong.

This might seem like just a simple physical exercise but, truth be told, it is more of the nervous system exercise or simply a brain exercise. In fact, the brain is just a sucker of a grin. It doesn’t care if the smile is fake or real. The moment you smile, the brain will believe it’s because you’re happy, and in the end, it will command the release of chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that increase the feelings of happiness and reduce stress respectively. This works in what is scientifically called ‘positive feedback’.

According to Jaime’s testimony, 60 seconds of smiling exercise every morning has changed her family’s life. “It’s part of our morning routine. If something goes awry during the day, I usually use smiling to quickly shift my mood. It only takes 10 to 15 seconds for it to make a difference for me now. It helps me to feel less stressed, transform my mood quickly and put things in a different perspective,” she said.

You might have recognized that a smiling environment makes you reciprocate the smile. A smile is contagious. A smile is a strong thing that most people can’t resist. But more importantly, it is a language that every person knows regardless of their country.

If you’ve ever heard someone telling you to cheer up even when your inside is breaking like a glass, it probably made you even unhappier. However, regardless of how hard it is, smiling is a powerful weapon to boost one’s happiness. The crazy but real thing is that it can even boost your immune system.

Ever since I came across that knowledge, my life revolves around this simple line:

“Fake it until you make it”

Smiling is a powerful weapon to boost one’s happiness.