Faking a smile makes you feel happier, study reveals

Feeling down? Fake a smile! Forcing your cheeks to form a grin actually makes you happier, study shows

  • Researchers collected data from 3,878 participants from 19 countries
  • Participants imitated smiling images or pulled their mouths towards their ears
  • The results showed a noticeable increase in happiness with both techniques

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When you’re feeling down, laughing might be the last thing on your mind.

But can faking a smile actually make you feel better?

The question has been part of a long-running debate among psychology researchers about whether pulling facial expressions can affect our emotions — an idea known as the facial feedback hypothesis.

Now new research has found strong evidence for it.

When you’re feeling down, laughing might be the last thing on your mind. But can faking a smile actually make you feel better? (stock image)

Want to get your kids to eat their broccoli? SMILE!

Good news for parents who are tired of begging their child with increasing desperation to eat their vegetables – experts have a life hack to make dinner time less annoying.

The key is to smile, as children can eat twice as many vegetables if they first see adults enjoying eating the same, experts led by Aston University have concluded.

The finding may help children develop more tastes for less popular vegetables such as raw broccoli and facilitate healthier eating in children in general.

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A global team of researchers, led by a scientist from Stanford University in California, collected data from 3,878 participants from 19 countries.

One-third of the participants were asked to hold a pen in their mouths, one-third were asked to imitate facial expressions seen in pictures of smiling actors, and the final third were instructed to move the corners of their lips toward their ears and lift their cheeks. using only the muscles in their face.

In each group, half of the participants performed the task while looking at cheerful pictures of puppies, kittens, flowers and fireworks, and the other half just saw a blank screen.

They also viewed the same types of images while being instructed to use a neutral facial expression.

To disguise the aim of the experiment, the researchers interspersed several other small physical tasks and asked the participants to solve simple math problems.

After each task, participants rated how happy they were.

Analysis of the data revealed a noticeable increase in happiness from participants who imitated smiling photographs or pulled their mouths towards their ears.

While the effect was relatively small, it matched the increase in happiness that participants felt when looking at the cheerful pictures with a neutral expression.

Analysis of the data revealed a noticeable increase in happiness from participants who imitated smiling photographs or pulled their mouths towards their ears (stock image)

But there wasn’t a strong mood change in participants who used the pen-in-mouth technique — possibly because this might not actually create an expression similar to a smile, the researchers said.

Lead author Nicholas Coles said: ‘We experience emotion so often that we forget to marvel at how incredible this ability is. But without emotion, there is no pain or joy, no suffering or bliss, and no tragedy and glory in the human condition.

‘This research tells us something fundamentally important about how this emotional experience works.

‘The smile can make people feel happy and the frown can make people feel angry; thus the conscious experience of emotion must be based at least in part on bodily sensations.’

The team wrote in the journal Nature Human Behaviour: ‘Data from 3,878 participants spanning 19 countries indicated that a facial expression and voluntary facial action could both enhance and initiate feelings of happiness.’

SMILING CAN MAKE YOU MORE ATHLETIC, RESEARCH FINDS

Researchers have found that projecting positive energy and smiling can improve athletic performance.

Ulster University researchers found that laughing can reduce an athlete’s perceived effort, or how hard they feel they are working, making the sport easier for them.

Runners used 2.8 percent less energy when smiling compared to frowning.

The study found that smiling can help runners relax and reduce muscle tension, making the activity easier.

In fact, researchers say many top athletes, including Olympic marathon gold medalist Eliud Kipchoge, smile to improve their performance.

Jacky

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