Body language, Smile, Smiling, Happiness, Power. Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you’ll live — and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior.
Have you ever wondered why being around children, who smile so frequently, makes you smile very often? A recent study at Uppsala University in Sweden found that it’s very difficult to frown when looking at someone who smiles. You ask why? Because smiling is evolutionarily contagious, and it suppresses the control we usually have on our facial muscles. Mimicking a smile and experiencing it physically helps us understand whether our smile is fake or real, so we can understand the emotional state of the smiler.
Another aha! moment came from a 2010 Wayne State University research project that looked into pre-1950s baseball cards of Major League players. The researchers found that the span of a player’s smilecould actually predict the span of his life. Players who didn’t smile in their pictures lived an average of only 72.9 years, where players with beaming smiles lived an average of almost 80 years.
And unlike lots of chocolate, lots of smiling can actually make you healthier. Smiling can help reduce the level of stress-enhancing hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine, increase the level of mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and reduce overall blood pressure.
And if that’s not enough, smiling can actually make you look good in the eyes of others. A recent study at Penn State University found that when you smile, you don’t only appear to be more likable and courteous, but you actually appear to be more competent.
So whenever you want to look great and competent, reduce your stress or improve your marriage, or feel as if you just had a whole stack of high-quality chocolate without incurring the caloric cost, or as if you found 25 grand in a pocket of an old jacket you hadn’t worn for ages, or whenever you want to tap into a superpower that will help you and everyone around you live a longer, healthier, happier life, smile.