There were many enduring photos of the spectacle that was the Royal Wedding over the weekend. One memorable image was the miserable trout pout worn by Victoria Beckham who clearly missed the memo that explained it was not a funeral, but a day of celebration, happiness and joy. Mrs Beckham wandered around with a face devoid of any jubilation and looked like she’d had the mother of all tiffs with David. Perhaps the Spice Girls had got back together and forgotten to tell her. Or maybe she’d had so many fillers for the big day that her face had set, like cement.
Now, of course there may be many reasons for her lack of positive expression, even though there are 19 types of a smile so surely she could have found one.
A genuine smile is known as a Duchenne smile after the scientist who first distinguished the difference between a fake smile and a genuine one. There are two main muscles used in a Duchenne smile. The Zygomatic Major pulls the lip corners up towards the cheekbone while the Orbicularis Oculi (not a Hogwarts spell) raises the skin and creates crow’s feet around the eyes.
Here at Laughology we believe that the simple act of smiling can bring with it a whole host of benefits, so in honour of VB’s poker face, I give you Laughology’s top 10 reasons to smile.
Smiling is contagious.
The part of your brain responsible for smiling is in the cingulate cortex, which is an unconscious automatic response area. This means it is difficult to remain straight-faced and, in a mood, when confronted with or surrounded by people who are smiling. Smile at someone now and see the response. If they don’t smile back they are making a conscious decision not to (cheeky beggars!).
Smiling makes your eyes sparkle and sparkly eyes I believe, belong to people who are in a state of flow and are actively engaged in their life, not passively waiting for something more spectacular to come along.
Boosts immune system
Smiling lowers levels of Cortisol (the stress hormone), thus boosting your immune system, which in turn help you stay healthy. No more sick days.
Smiles are instantly recognisable
People can recognize smiles from up to 300 feet away, making it easily the most distinguishable of the facial expressions and helping you stand out in a crowd.
Makes you more attractive
Psychologists at Swansea University found that people with genuine smiles were perceived by others to be healthier than those who weren’t smiling. Another study published in the journal Neuropsychology reported that the sight of an attractive, smiling face activates the orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that process sensory rewards. This suggests that when you view a person smiling, you feel rewarded.
Smile on credit
Research shows that if you force a smile, you will improve your mood as endorphins and serotonin are released and they are the body’s naturally-occurring happy chemicals (and pain relievers). They also lower blood pressure.
Easier to smile than frown (unless you’re Victoria Beckham)
I’m proactively lazy and am always looking for ways to work less, play more and get better results, so this must be why I have a permanent grin on my face. It is sometimes quoted that 13 muscles are used to smile whereas it takes 33 muscles to frown. It doesn’t take a scientist to deduce that frowning probably requires more effort than smiling. Maybe this is how Mrs Beckham stays so slim.
People who smile are seen to be more reliable, confident and sociable and are thus more likely to get promoted than those who don’t.
Regardless of the diversity, etiquettes and customs of cultures around the world, the smile is universally accepted as a sign of happiness and acceptance.
It costs nothing, and yet can create so much.
So, there you have it, conclusive proof that just curling up the corners of your mouth and letting the skin around your eyes go a bit crinkly can have a massive impact on your health, wealth and wellbeing.
As Oscar Wilde once eloquently put it: “Some people create happiness wherever they go, some whenever they go.” Which one are you?
Top Tip - smiling is better for your face than any wrinkle cream or make up.
Keep Smiling :)
Dave Keeling - Dave ‘Billy Elliot’ Keeling grew up in a pit village in Nottinghamshire...