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The surprising benefits of smiling … even when you don’t feel like it

UŚMIECH KOBIETY
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Science shows there's some truth to "fake it till you make it."

A smile is your basic adornment. It brightens your face and is magnetic. A sincere, heartfelt smile makes you beautiful. Look around; you’ll see how often a seemingly bland face changes to a stunning one when a person smiles.

So take the challenge: smile as often as possible. Smile at home, during a walk, on your way to and from work, on the bus, while shopping, smile standing in line. Smile to your friends and strangers, and also just to yourself. You will reap several benefits …

Smiling improves your mood and makes others feel happy

Psychologists have discovered that people smile because they feel happy, but also, they feel happy because they smile. This means that you don’t have to experience anything positive to be happy and joyful.

In the 1980s, a German psychologist named Fritz Strack and his coworkers did an experiment with two separate groups of people. Both groups were supposed to judge how funny a particular comic book was. During the experiment, group one held pencils in their teeth in such a way as to not to touch it with their lips. Group two held pencils in their lips so as not to touch it with their teeth. That caused the people to take on a happy or sad facial expression unconsciously. It turned out that the subjects of the experiment experienced emotions associated with their appearances – the “joyful” people (pencil in teeth) felt better and judged the comic books as funnier than the “sad” group (pencil in the lips).

While the exact results of Strack’s study have been difficult to replicate, a variety of other studies seem to confirm the same conclusion. We smile when we are happy, but the mechanism works in reverse as well: you feel happy when you smile, even if that smile is forced.

Smiling affects our relationships with others

If that’s the case, the more you smile, the better your relationships with others will be. We’ve known for a long time that smiling is contagious; it brings more joy, warmth, and closeness to you and to those around you.

Particularly, if you are a spouse and a parent, you can infect your entire family with a smile. The more you smile, the easier it will be for your spouse and children to relax and be happy around you.

If you are single and hoping to find your future spouse, you increase your chances of meeting “the one” when you smile. Think about it: would you rather strike a conversation with someone smiling or someone looking grumpy? A smile suggests openness and helps reduce the other person’s feelings of fear and uncertainty. If you smile, anyone who notices you will have an easier time approaching you.

Regardless of your marital status, smile as often as you can. Maybe your smile will change someone’s daily life.

And if you are having a hard day and your teeth are clenching with anger, put a pencil between your teeth.

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