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The Science of Smiling & Why It's So Powerful | Buffer Blog

Smiling

It stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.

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The Science of Smiling & Why It's So Powerful | Buffer Blog

The Science of Smiling & Why It's So Powerful | Buffer Blog

https://buffer.com/resources/the-science-of-smiling-a-guide-to-humans-most-powerful-gesture

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Key Ideas

Smiling

It stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.

Real vs. Fake smiles

Whenever we smile, there are 2 potential muscles we activate. 
  1. The zygomaticus major and it controls the corners of your mouth. Whenever this muscle only is activated, it’s not actually a genuine smile. Scientists call this also the “social” smile
  2. The second muscle, known to show sincerity is the obicularis occuli and it encircles our eye socket.

What smiling does

  • Smiling reduces stress that your body and mind feel, almost similar to getting good sleep, according to recent studies.
  • Smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you. That’s why we often feel happier around children – they smile more.
  • Smiling leads to decrease in the stress-induced hormones that negatively affect your physical and mental health.
  • Smiling breeds trust, makes you happier and helps you to live longer.

Smiling can be re-learnt

  • Imagine a situation of joy before an event: Visualize someone you deeply love, or recall an event that brought you deep satisfaction and joy.
  • Practice smiling in front of the mirror. Practice activating both your mouth corners and your eye sockets. 
  • Become comfortable with smiling.  If in your head, you can imagine yourself going through the day and smiling lots to everyone and everything, that’s often when a happier life starts.

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Duchenne was interested in the mechanics of facial expressions, including how the muscles of the face contract to produce a smile.

The Duchenne‘ smile is long and intense, though it involves the contraction of just two muscles. First the zygomatic major, which resides in the cheek, tugs at the corners of the mouth, then the orbicularis oculi, which surrounds the eye, pulls up the cheeks, leading to the characteristic ‘twinkling eyes’.

Fear smile
“When bonobo chimpanzees are afraid they’ll expose their teeth and draw their lips back so that their gums are exposed,” says Zanna Clay, a primatologist at the University of Birmingham.

In babies, a broad grin can either mean they’re happy or distressed and studies have shown that men tend to smile more around those considered to be higher status.

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It is important to balance the appearance of authority and warmth.

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