Boost Your Happiness Instantly for Free

How to boost your happiness by smiling

Boost Your Happiness Instantly for Free

Science says this simple trick gives you a genuine neurological response

Jack Nicholson has always appreciated the overwhelming power of a good smile.

Jack Nicholson has always appreciated the overwhelming power of a good smile.

Get ready to roll your eyes, because what we're about to tell you sounds so simple you might get annoyed. Smiling makes you happy. But wait, like, seriously ... legitimately happier than if you didn't smile. It turns out, science has been studying the phenomenon of happiness and smiling does the trick. Better than a surprising amount of other things.

In his TED e-book, Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act, Ron Gutman discusses how a British study used an electromagnetic brain scan machine and heart rate monitor to establish "mood-boosting values" for various brain stimuli. They discovered that smiling stimulates our brain's reward mechanisms in very powerful and surprising ways. "How did the power of a smile stack up against other well-regarded pleasure-inducing sensations?" he writes. "Depending on whose smile you see, the researchers found that one smile can be as pleasurable and stimulating as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate ... or receiving $25,000."

What's more, smiling actually does make you feel good even if you're not feeling great in the moment. In a "fake it till you make" series of experiments, a German study demonstrated conclusively that the brain's happiness circuitry is activated when you smile—regardless of how you feel in the moment. Meaning, if you're down, smiling actually prompts your brain to produce feel-good hormones to help turn your around.

The more you smile, the more you'll notice people around you smiling back. Tension is cut. Stress is alleviated. The mood of any room you're in will lift, ultimately making work or relationships or life in general a whole lot easier. You'll have actually primed your brain and body to be happier. And there's nothing wrong with that, right?

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The benefits of smiling

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71% of women and 58% of men rate a smile as the most desirable feature in a partner.

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