Ever heard of the phrase 'Fake it till you make it'? Well, turns out, in this case, it can be true. Psychologists have now found that smiling more often can actually make people feel happier. This means that even if you're not feeling all that happy if you just smile enough you might be able to trick your brain into thinking that you're happy. This, of course, might be something that happens subconsciously but we don't really realise it. And this also means that you'll end up feeling healthier.
To be able to figure this out, it took the researchers nearly 50 years of testing and research to find whether there was a relationship between people's expressions and the way they felt. "Conventional wisdom tells us that we can feel a little happier if we simply smile. Or that we can get ourselves in a more serious mood if we scowl. However, psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 100 years," said the lead researcher of the study.
"Some studies have not found evidence that facial expressions can influence emotional feelings. But we can't focus on the results of any one study. Psychologists have been testing this idea since the early 1970s, so we wanted to look at all the evidence,” he added. In 2016, nearly 17 studies failed in proving that smiling can actually make people feel happier which is why more and more psychologists began to disagree with the idea.
The researchers then collected data from over 11,000 participants from all around the world and combined research from over 138 studies. Their research was able to prove that expressions do have an impact on the way people behave. It isn't a huge impact but it does make a difference. So, say if you're smiling, you'll tend to feel happier, if you're frowning you'll tend to feel angrier, if you're making a sad face you'll tend to feel sadder.
"We don't think that 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. We still have a lot to learn about these facial feedback effects, but this meta-analysis put us a little closer to understanding how emotions work,” the researchers concluded.
Well, looks like there might be a lot more to uncover in this field. Stay tuned for more updates.