Your Smile Is Contagious
August 6, 2021
Have you ever caught yourself having a long tiring day and being in an indifferent mood, but then randomly feeling joy when someone cracks a joke or does something funny, putting a smile on your face?
This happened to me this evening when a friend of mine forwarded to me this quirky little video. Take 1.28 min to see it. I promise, it will make you smile !!
What happens in our brains when we come across something funny like the video my friend sent me? Our brain gets into a happy state. When our brain is happy, it releases endorphins(happy hormones), and a neuronal signal is transmitted to our facial muscles to trigger a smile. This activates a positive feedback loop of happiness. When our facial muscles contract into a smile, they, in turn, fire a signal back to our brain, stimulating a further release of endorphins and making us happier.
In short, when our brain feels happy, we smile; and when we smile, our brain feels happier.
Facial Feedback Hypothesis
More than 150 years back, Charles Darwin came out with a concept popularly known as the Facial Feedback Hypothesis. This Hypothesis suggests that our facial expressions directly affect our emotional state.
I was reminded of this nugget of information when I saw the funny video my friend sent me. When we smile, there are two of our facial muscles that go to work.
- Zygomaticus major- the muscles around our mouth that spread out when we smile.
- Orbicularis Oculi- the muscles around our eye sockets that contract when we smile
I have tried testing Charles Darwin’s Facial Feedback Hypothesis by holding a pencil between my teeth. This simple action mimics a natural smile. Holding the pencil for more than 15 or 20 seconds actually makes you feel funny. Try it- I promise it works.
Whenever you are in a low mood, instead of wallowing in your low emotions, try forcing yourself to smile. The Facial Feedback Hypothesis will work its magic. The act of smiling will alter your brain’s emotional processing pathway and make you feel happier.
Your smile is contagious. It makes you and others around you happy.