We’re Going To Smile More in 2019 + Here’s Why

When I was a senior in high school, I took a psychology class + loved learning all of the practical applications for psychology in our lives! One of the activities we did asked us to smile for fifteen minutes + then write a journal entry about how we felt. I remember thinking, “this is so weird.” However, rather than just blowing off the assignment + writing a simple journal entry, I decided to fully commit ++ smile for fifteen minutes.

The first thing I noticed was that my face really hurt after about five minutes ; ). The second thing that I noticed was that I couldn’t really say anything mean to anyone while I was smiling. Walking around my house, talking to my siblings + parents, I felt like a much nicer person. I was inclined to ask them how their days were and didn’t feel like complaining when they asked about mine. After the fifteen minutes I had to admit that I felt my mood had been lifted.


Smile-research was a popular topic in the 1970’s + 1980’s ++ many psychologists found consistent results. One of the biggest psychological contributors to this research is Dr. Robert Zajonc. Dr. Zajonc published studies in which his subjects would indirectly make a smiling face. He would do this by asking his subjects to make the “e” sound [resulting in a smiling face], or a “u” sound [resulting in a sad face]. The subjects who had made the “e” sounds reported feeling better than the subjects who had made the “u” sound. Other studies included asking subjects to hold pens in their mouths to lengthen their lips into a smile or gradually move their eyes, cheeks + lips until they were unknowingly smiling. My favorite study is one in which subjects who were asked to smile into a mirror + actually saw themselves smiling saw a pronounced positive change in their mood.


This cause + effect relationship can be supported by the James-Lange Theory. This theory suggests that emotions occur as a result of the body’s physiological reaction to events. VeryWellMind gives an example that says, “Suppose you are walking in the woods, + you see a grizzly bear. You begin to tremble, + your heart begins to race. The James-Lange theory proposes that you will interpret your physical reactions + conclude that you are frightened [“I am trembling. Therefore I am afraid.”]” This theory says that if we smile, our bodies will interpret our physiological actions and decide that we are happy!


Psychology Today mentions many benefits of smiling such as increased relaxation // decreased stress as well as lower heart rate + blood pressure. This happens because smiling releases neuropeptides. These molecules allow the neurons in our brains to communicate whether we are feeling happy, sad, excited etc. Dopamine// serotonin + endorphins are released when we smile. These “feel-good” neurons work to improve our mood and calm us.  


Now, we can’t just smile away all of our problems +  it’s ok to not feel happy all the time, especially during the winter season.  It can be majorly beneficial to take a study break// watch your favorite vine compilation + laugh for a minute [or ten!]. We can also brighten our days + others’ by smiling to a stranger on our way to class #grlpwr! We can all benefit from smiling a little more, even if it’s just a quick smile to ourselves in the mirror!

Share your smile with us and post some positivity to your _inCHAARG Instagram!

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