Depression, sports, health… The benefits of smiling

Today we are talking about the smile. It is very important in communication, it is a social cement. A smile is a subtle facial expression that can convey many different emotions. He can be affectionate, complicit, but also seductive, embarrassed, hateful or even dominating. It is central to non-verbal communication. When it expresses joy and is authentic, it instantly creates a bond. It puts the one who gives it and the one who receives it in a positive state.

There are smiles and smiles. You can distinguish a real smile from a smile on the face. Not all smiles are the same. The gold standard, so to speak, is the Duchenne smile, named after the French neurologist who studied facial expressions in the 19th century. This doctor, Guillaume Duchenne, was the first to identify the real smile, the one that spontaneously expresses genuine joy.

A genuine smile uses a lot of facial muscles. That’s why you can see it even if someone is wearing a mask that hides half of their face. It goes beyond the mouth and can also be read in the eyes as it activates the orbicularis muscle of the eyelids. This muscle crows with crow’s feet around the eyes and is difficult to activate on command. So it is in a sense a guarantee of authenticity.

But even a social smile, provided it doesn’t express dominance, can have a positive effect on our well-being and that of others.

Anti-depression and contagious

The smile, even social, keeps the bad mood at bay. The latest findings in neuroscience have shown that the same brain circuits are activated when we smile or when we experience joy. Besides, give it a try, it’s hard to smile and think about something negative at the same time.

Be careful, this doesn’t mean smiling is enough to stop feeling depressed! An American study of bus drivers showed that when they put a smile on their faces, in total disagreement with how they felt, their morale was no better. Their mood only improved when their smiles were accompanied by positive thoughts.

So smiling can make us happier if we try to evoke pleasant thoughts, recall good memories, or remember jokes at the same time.

Practicing smiling in this way, looking for the positive, can therefore be very helpful. In addition, by sketching a smile, you risk getting another in return. Indeed, a smile is contagious. This is called social mimicry. We tend to imitate each other.

Good for health… and fitness

Smiling is a recipe for maintaining a good mood, but it is also good for your health. Incredible as it may seem, it preserves our health capital by easing tension and reducing the effects of stress, especially on our immune system.

It can also improve physical performance by reducing muscle tension. The king of the marathon, the Kenyan, Eliud Kipchoge, knows it all too well. In 2019 in Vienna he managed to get under 2 hours by smiling strategically at intervals during the race.

The smile would also guarantee a long life. Researchers analyzed photos of 230 baseball players. Those who laughed the most are also the ones who lived the longest.

Finally, as we know, a smile is a weapon of mass seduction. Marylin Monroe was right when she said a smile is the best makeup there is. Studies have confirmed it: smiling people are seen as more attractive and in better shape.
The smile, anti-wrinkle, elixir of longevity, which you want to cheer up more often!

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