The Secret Science of Smiling

I’d like to think I’m a relatively happy person, but I have to admit, I’m always looking for small ways to make my day even brighter.

This past year, I started taking earlier classes and working the morning shift, and let me tell you, getting up at 5:30 a.m. every day can wear out a person after a while. When you’re up before the sun has even said hello, it can be hard to find a reason to get out of bed. I found over time I would be going to bed later and later and forcibly having to roll myself out of bed just to get moving. It got so bad, in fact, I had to put my alarm on the other side of the room.

On top of all this, the winter time and the cold, dark weather is not inviting. Science says that a person’s moods can be directly affected by the weather and time of year. By December 31, I was over the whole getting-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn lifestyle. I knew something was going to have to change to get me out of the funk of being up before everyone else I knew.

For decades, doctors have been researching the impact smiling can have on the body as a whole. Recently, researchers at the University of Kansas conducted a study to examine how smiling and the act of smiling can reduce stress on the body and lower your heart rate. Other publications claim that smiling daily can increase the body’s longevity and lower blood pressure.

I’ve always believed in the saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, so reading more about how smiling can quite literally change your life made me want to test it out for myself.

Around finals week, I decided that every morning when I woke up, the first thing I’d do (after basically crawling to my bathroom from my warm covers) would be to smile at myself in the mirror. Smile, make a funny face, stick my tongue out––anything. I started to think that maybe if the first thing I saw in the morning was a symbol of something happy, I would feel happier overall. Smiling at yourself in a mirror seemed like the trick to forcible self-love, so I mean, why not?

I have to say, science once again does not lie.

After doing this little routine for around two months, I’ve noticed I feel a lot more self-confident and as corny as it may sound, I'm more ready to seize the day.

It’s no surprise that the way you perceive your situation impacts the way in which you go about your day. Dreading waking up leads to dreading about going to work or class, and can ultimately put you into a worse mood. You might just find yourself laughing at a joke without a care in the world or getting uncontrollably excited seeing your friends every day. I don’t mean to sound straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel when I say forcing yourself to smile can make you a marginally happier person. 

But all I’m saying is to give it a try.

Images: 12, 3, 4