Can’t seem to shake your winter blues? Start smiling. It may sound trite, but even a fake smile has been proven to raise spirits.
Fake it ’til you make it
A smile is made possible because of the zygomatic major, a muscle that contracts at the sides of the mouth. Studies suggest that when you smile, even insincerely, the mind registers an improvement in mood because it responds to the body’s actions. If the brain senses the zygomatic major flexing, it interprets this as happiness and creates that emotion.
Live long and smile
In addition to improving happiness, smiling may even prolong your life. A study of professional baseball players showed those who smiled genuinely in their 1952 yearbook pictures were only half as likely to pass away in any given year versus those who had not. The intensity of the smile could explain 35 percent of the variability, providing some evidence that smiling is linked to people living longer.
Another interesting fact discovered by a group of British researchers: One smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as 2,000 bars of chocolate. Furthermore, that same smile can also produce stimulation on par with receiving $25,000 in cash. If you want to skip the calories and feel like you’ve gotten rich quick, try a smile on for size.
The bottom line: If you’re feeling blue, start flashing your pearly whites. The physiological and emotional effects you’ll get from a forced smile may eventually turn it into a real one.