It is a question that has puzzled scientists for more than a hundred years: can you control your mood with your facial expression? So a team of scientists analyzed 50 years of research on the subject. The results? A simple smile makes you feel happy.
Over the past 50 years, the influence of facial expressions on more than 11,000 people from around the world was analyzed. After teasing out all the results, the team of scientists concluded: a facial expression does influence a person's feelings. However, the effects on mood are relatively small. That is, if the subjects smiled, they felt a tiny bit happier. When they frowned, they felt slightly more anger, and when they looked glum they felt slightly sadder. It has long been assumed that this is indeed the case, but there was always a group of scientists who questioned this assumption. This new research puts an end to that doubt.
No quick fix
Of course, the researchers are extremely cautious in concluding. So they place an important caveat: Smiling is not a quick fix for depression, and "smiling yourself happy" is an illusion.
"A facial expression such as a smile can influence our emotions to some extent, but not always. There is still much to learn about how these effects work, but they are worth exploring. These kinds of insights provide a good picture of how the mind and body interact and respond to each other. That interaction plays an important role in how we consciously experience our emotions," said Nicholas Coles, leader of the study.
Laughter is contagious
There is no doubt that there is a connection between mind and body. A connection that can be used to give your mood a quick boost. Try out what smiling on a dark day does to you. Does it change your mindset? Does it make you happier?
Those curled corners of your mouth won't make your problems disappear like snow in the sun and certainly won't silence that irritating person. But at least smiling lowers your stress level, reduces anxiety, helps you control pain, strengthens your immune system, and puts others at ease.