Smiling is a universal sign that someone is happy. It conveys a message that you are not dangerous, and asks people to accept you on a personal level. The most remarkable thing about smiling is its contagiousness – when you smile to someone, it makes them reciprocate by returning the smile. Interestingly it is true with both – sincere and fake smiles. According to some scientists, there is a neuron that affects part of the brain that is responsible for the recognition of faces and facial expressions. This neuron causes the ‘mirroring’ reaction when you see smiling or frowning faces. In other words, it causes you to copy facial expression that you see.
This explains why the more you smile, the more positive reactions you will get from others. By practicing smiling – be that real smiles or fake smiles – you will improve your overall experience with people. Sure sounds like something that is worth trying!
You can differentiate real smiles from fake ones by the presence of characteristic wrinkles around the eyes. Lip corners are pulled up and the muscles around the eyes are contracted, which creates the wrinkles. Fake smiles, however, involve only lips. Another sign of a fake smile is that it appears on left side of the face stronger than on the right one.
Because most of the people can’t consciously differentiate between fake and real smiles, they will still mirror you even if your smile was forced. This is why faking smiles when you don’t feel like smiling still makes sense.
Here are the most common types of smiles that you probably see every day:
The lips are stretched in a straight line while teeth are concealed. It could mean that the smiling person withholds his opinion, or has a secret that he is not going to share with you.
This is type of smile can be displayed only deliberately. The smile shows opposite emotions on each side of the face.
This smile displays teeth while the jaw is dropped back to emphasize happiness, and to trigger happy reactions in others.
The head is turned down and away, while the person looks up with closed lips smile. It makes the person look childish, playful and secretive at the same time.
Similarly to smiling, laughter attracts friends and improves health. Research shows that when people smile or laugh, even if they don’t feel happy initially, their brain activity is moved towards spontaneous happiness. This means that now they are truly happy.
Humor has positive effect in counteracting stress and depression. More than this however, laughter stimulates the body’s natural painkillers and endorphins (‘feel-good’ enhancers), helps relieve stress, and naturally heals the body.
People are attracted to smiling and laughing faces because they actually affect their autonomic nervous system. When you see a smiling face, you smile. This releases endorphins into your own system and you begin to feel good. The same is true when you see a frowning face – you are more likely to frown too. The conclusion is that if you are surrounded by depressed people, you are likely to become depressed yourself, because you will be mirroring their facial expressions.
Smiling and laughter has a huge role in our love lives as well. It is women who do most of smiling and laughing in romantic situations. Usually, the more a man makes a woman laugh, the more she will find him attractive. Having a sense of humor is on the top of women’s priority list of what they want to see in their men. Interestingly, seeing it from most men’s point of view, saying that a woman has a good sense of humor doesn’t mean she is telling jokes; it means that she laughs at his!