The Benefits Of Smiling Essay

2221 words - 9 pages

Introduction
According to Wikipedia, “a smile is a facial expression formed by flexing those muscles most notably near both ends of the mouth and is customarily an expression denoting pleasure, happiness or amusement.” Smiles according to Eric Jaffe begin in our sensory corridors often caused by little emotional data often felt in pleasant situations like when the ear collects a whispered word, the eyes spot an old friend on the station platform or the hand feels the pressure of another hand (Jaffe 2010). He goes ahead to describe the processes involved in smiling beginning with the emotional data that runs through and excites the left temporal region of the brain, then to the surface of ...view middle of the document...

It is one of the most enjoyable things we do and can be infectious too. It has been suggested by Dimberg that humans are predisposed to react emotionally to facial stimuli and in particular to have facial reactions to facial expressions (Dimberg 1997). Through a fascinating process called mimicry, a research was conducted in Sweden; they exposed participants to images of faces while they monitored their facial muscles through an instrument called electromyograph (Dimberg et al, 2000). When exposed to happy faces, participants moved their zygomatic major muscle (the muscle used in smiling); when exposed to sad faces, participants moved their corrugator supercilii muscle (the muscle used in frowning). Participants did this even when the stimuli were hidden and rapidly presented and the participants were usually unaware that they even moved their muscles (Dimberg & Thunberg, 1998). Dr. Ursula Hess and Slyvie Blairy also conducted a study on facial mimicry and emotional contagion. In their study, participants viewed video clips of a person expressing anger, sadness, disgust and happiness and the results showed that participants consistently mimicked each of those expressions (Hess & Blairy, 2001). These studies support that when you smile at someone, their muscles maneuver into a smile as well which is called emotional contagion that is, the process of mimicking someone else’s emotion. Emotions are contagious be it good or bad. According to a researcher from Lund University in Sweden, mimicking a person’s bodily state or facial expression causes physical responses in the receiver’s body that are identical to those in the sender’s (Dimberg & Thunberg, 1998). That is, when people activate muscle groups that link to specific emotions, their body will react as though they are really experiencing that emotion. If you wrinkle your nose and narrow your eyes your body will release some adrenaline and your heart rate may speed up as though you are angry. If you mimic a smile by lifting the creases of your lips and squinting your eyes, your body will release serotonin, dopamine and other “feel-good” indicators. In the study by Hess and Blairy, participants reported feeling more happiness and sadness/depression relative to the video they were watching (Hess & Blairy, 2001). Therefore when you smile at someone else, they smile and this causes psychological changes within their bodies, which according to many researches are beneficial to our physical and psychological health.

The Benefits Of Smiling
Just as Abel Hester said, “frequent smiling has many therapeutic and health benefits” (Abel 2002), particularly when the smile is a genuine smile popularly known as the Duchenne smile. A Duchenne smile as described by Surakka, V and Hietanen J.K, are smiles that engage not just the muscles around the mouth but also engages the muscles around the eyes forming what looks like a crowfeet at the edges of both eyes. They are authentic smiles associated...

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