If asked to describe what someone does when they feel happy, most people would respond “smile.” When people experience happiness, a grin tends to take over their face. The emotion causes the behavior of smiling.
But did you know that the opposite is true, too?
Ask people to smile, and they report feeling happier. This makes sense when we consider that how you act can affect how you feel.
Even more interesting, however, is that if you trick people into smiling without them realizing it, they still report greater joy.
A study was conducted where subjects were randomly assigned into one of two groups. The first group was asked to hold a pencil with their teeth without letting their lips touch it. Without realizing it, they were contracting the same muscles used to smile by doing this. The second group was asked to hold a pencil with their lips only, which, unbeknownst to them, caused them to frown.
The groups were then asked to rate (1) how funny they found specific cartoons and (2) how happy they felt.
The first group, those who were smiling without knowing it, rated the cartoons as funnier and their happiness levels as higher.
The take-home lesson? No need to put a dirty pencil in you mouth. But if you want to be happier, try smiling. The act of smiling will help change you mood to a more positive state.
Contract your smiling muscles, and you will be an even happier you!