Smile Your Way to Happiness: Unpacking the Facial Feedback Hypothesis

be happy
When you are feeling blue, all you need to do is smile!

An idea has taken root in both scientific and non-scientific communities that states, “feedback from our facial movements can influence our experience of emotion.” This has translated to sayings

  • “fake it til you make it”
  • “just grin and bear it”
  • “smile your way to happiness”.
act enthusiastic and you'll be enthusiastic

Psychologists call this idea the facial feedback hypothesis.

The facial feedback hypothesis suggests that an emotional response can be triggered by consciously altering our facial expressions: Smile to make yourself happy, frown to make yourself sad, and so on. Hotly debated for decades, and still unable to be proven as scientific theory, researchers conducting this study used a new technique called meta-analysis to combine data collected from more than 11,000 participants over 138 studies from around the world to show that the small act of putting on a smile really can affect your mood. Granted, the impact is small but their findings show it is absolutely possible.

“Maybe people can ‘smile their way to happiness’. But these findings are exciting because they provide a clue about how the mind and the body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotion,” says Nicholas Coles, lead author of the paper detailing this study.

Whether the impact of smiling yourself into a better mood is measurable, there is no harm in trying – the human brain is amazing and capable of so much more than we realize. The next time you find yourself in a foul mood, try this experiment on for size and see how it goes! Other ways to combat negative energy is by finding volunteer opportunities in your community. GoodBulb endeavors to put a smile on as many faces as we can muster. We just can’t help it – it’s in our smile!

  • I told my wife she should embrace her mistakes...
  • She gave me a hug.
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