The hidden power of smiling
The Power of Smiling: 9 Scientific Facts About Your Smile
Have you noticed the way people’s faces completely change when they smile? Someone who looks unapproachable suddenly seems friendly and welcoming – and if you’re on the receiving end of that smile, it can feel wonderful.
There are scientific reasons why it feels so good to be smiled at – it’s one of the easiest to understand expressions, uniform across all humans. Even people living in the world’s remotest tribes use the gesture to express joy and satisfaction.
But experiencing pleasure at being smiled at is only half the story; we actually benefit from smiling at others in a number of ways. Ron Gutman, author of the book ‘Smile: The Astonishing Power of a Simple Act’, has reviewed numerous studies about smiling and uncovered some fascinating facts. Here are the top 9…
#1 – Your smile can predict how long your marriage will last
Researchers studying old high school yearbooks found they could predict how successful a person’s marriage would be based on their smile. They compared their theories to the real-life experiences of those people and discovered a correlation between the span of a person’s smile and the longevity of their relationship. Looking at the photos, they could also accurately judge how well a person would score on standardised tests of wellbeing and how inspiring they would be to others.
#2 – The more you smile, the longer you’ll live
A second study looked at pre-1950s baseball cards of major league players and found that smiles could be used to predict how long a person would live – and the broader the smile, the longer the lifespan! Players who didn’t smile in their photos lived an average of 72.9 years, whereas players with beaming smiles lived 79.9 years.
#3 – You began smiling before you we’re born
Smiling is not a learned behaviour, it is something we start doing before we are born. Using 3D ultrasound technology, developing babies can be seen smiling while still in the womb. Even babies who are born blind and can’t see their parents’ expressions will smile when they hear their voices.
#4 – You smile more than 20 times a day
In an average day, most adults will smile more than 20 times. Only 14% of adults smile fewer than five times in a day. Children, however, smile much more frequently – as many as 400 times a day. It explains why being in the company of a happy child can make us feel so good.
#5 – Your smile is contagious!
A study carried out in Sweden found it’s very difficult to frown when looking at someone who smiles. That’s because humans have evolved over time to mimic other people’s expressions. Smiling is quite literally contagious, causing our brains to suppress the control we usually have on our facial muscles. Mimicking a person’s smile (which we do subconsciously) actually helps us determine the emotional state of the other person and judge whether the smile is real or fake.
#6 – Smiling acts like an antidepressant on your brain
Feeling low? Then try to crack a smile – just the very act of smiling sends a message to our brains that we are happy. Charles Darwin wrote about the ‘facial feedback response theory’ in his Theory of Evolution. He found that smiling actually makes us feel good, rather than smiling being merely a result of feeling good.
#7 – Smiling stimulates your brain better than chocolate
Chocolate is well-known to stimulate the pleasure receptors in our brains but a British study has shown it pales in comparison to the effect smiling has. In terms of brain activity, one smile can generate as much stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate! If that sounds incredible, the same research project found that smiling is as stimulating as receiving up to £16,000 in cash. It’s true, then, that the best things in life are free.
#8 – Smiling reduces your stress levels
Smiling releases feel-good hormones, like endorphins, into the body. This reduces the level of stress-enhancing hormones, like cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine, and makes you feel calmer. Smiling even reduces your blood pressure, improving your overall health.
#9 – People think you’re more competent when you smile
Smiling doesn’t just make you look friendly and more likeable. Studies have shown that when you smile, you appear to be more courteous and competent, which could enhance your career prospects. Additionally, people perceive you to be more attractive when you smile, meaning it’s best to use photos in which you look happy for online dating.
Fix your smile, feel great
At Ocean Dental Marbella we understand the power of smiling. We practice ‘emotional dentistry’, working with patients to transform not only their looks but also the way they feel. When you can smile with complete confidence, you will smile more freely and more frequently. And as we have learned, smiling comes with wonderful benefits – both for you and for everyone around you.
If you would like to test drive how good you could feel with a smile makeover, make an appointment for digital smile design at Ocean Dental. We can help you visualise a smile that reflects your true personality and transforms your confidence.