The Science Behind the Smile

The last time you smiled, you likely gave no thought to the biological science that was behind it. Smiling is a truly natural and human phenomenon that every one of us has experienced, and we can never get enough smiles in our lives.

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Is it surprising to find that the average adult smiles about 40 times a day? You likely give very little note to every time you smile. When a kitten jumps to catch a toy, or when you see a funny meme online, science is at work with your smile. Just the act of smiling is proven to reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and lower heart rate. The positive effects of smiling persist even if the smile is completely fake and forced. Faking a smile tricks your body into thinking you’re happy. Your body then will slowly send signals to your mind that you are happy and it will reduce your anxiety and encourage real happiness.

Here are some more interesting facts about smiling:

  • Laughing and smiling can help you burn your calories up to 20% faster.
  • Smiling increases the body’s production of bacteria-fighting white blood cells.
  • Children, on average, smile up to 8 times more than adults.

Interestingly, smiling often leads to a longer lifespan. Essentially, there are two kinds of smiles. The first kind is your authentic smile. This smile is unique and exercises different muscles than the other kind of smile, which is called the “social smile.” A social smile is used to be polite, perhaps when passing by a stranger who you make eye contact with. This type of smile, though, is still beneficial for your emotional health. Studies have shown that a social smile still lights up and is beneficial for the emotional centers in your brain; so, let’s work on that smile!

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