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How Smiling Affects Your Brain

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

Each time you smile, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness.

For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress (3). Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, or excited. The feel-good neurotransmitters—dopamine, endorphins and serotonin—are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well (4). This not only relaxes your body, but it can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure. The endorphins also act as a natural pain reliever—100-percent organic and without the potential negative side effects of synthetic concoctions (4).

Finally, the serotonin release brought on by your smile serves as an anti-depressant/mood lifter (5). Many of today’s pharmaceutical anti-depressants also influence the levels of serotonin in your brain, but with a smile, you again don’t have to worry about negative side effects—and you don’t need a prescription from your doctor.

How Smiling Affects Your Body

You’re actually better-looking when you smile—and I’m not just trying to butter you up. When you smile, people treat you differently. You’re viewed as attractive, reliable, relaxed, and sincere. A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing an attractive, smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that processes sensory rewards. This suggests that when you view a person smiling, you actually feel rewarded. It also explains the 2011 findings by researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Subjects were asked to rate smiling and attractiveness. They found that both men and women were more attracted to images of people who made eye contact and smiled than those who did not (6). If you don’t believe me, see how many looks you get when you walk outside with that smile you're wearing right now. (You’re still smiling like I asked, right?)

How Smiling Affects Those Around You

Did you know that your smile is actually contagious? The part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression of smiling when happy or mimicking another’s smile resides in the cingulate cortex, an unconscious automatic response area (7). In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of several emotions: joy, anger, fear, and surprise. When the picture of someone smiling was presented, the researchers asked the subjects to frown. Instead, they found that the facial expressions went directly to imitation of what subjects saw (8). It took a conscious effort to turn that smile upside-down. So if you’re smiling at someone, it’s likely they can’t help but smile back. If they don’t, they’re making a conscious effort not to. Looking at the bigger picture, each time you smile at a person, their brain coaxes them to return the favor. You are creating a symbiotic relationship that allows both of you to release feel-good chemicals in your brain, activate reward centers, make you both more attractive, and increase the chances of you both living longer, healthier lives.

Now take that Knowledge AND Apply it to Expressive Poses

Emotionally Supportive Yoga = EMOGA

EMOGA is what it’s described to be: physical poses that allow you and your body to practice, have more permission for and allow certain emotional states and beliefs. Exactly like making yourself smile, whether you feel happy or not, will in fact set off a positive cascade of effects in your brain, your body and in those around you. Read the article below to learn more specifically about this. So why not expand that same effect of “body emotional technology” to other feelings and beliefs. I have taken this and specifically designed poses as well as use existing yoga poses to create a more conscious approach to practice and increasing the feelings you want to have. EMOGA will help you tap into Receiving, Confidence, Believing in Yourself and much more. Check it out: https://youtu.be/UJJ2herUJoI This 1st video will take you through the head and shoulders EMOGA poses in less than 10 minutes. You can do these anywhere you can sit or stand, so a gym, mat or other work out necessities are not needed. Start off doing each pose for 4 to 10 seconds or repetitions and increase to 30 seconds as you like. Ideally, you can hold some poses for a minute or more as needed.

Learn more about getting the support of Trella Davis MBA Transformational Coaching & Intuitive Healing to Become More: https://www.accessyouranswers.com/

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"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." —Thich Nhat Hanh

References – PsychologyToday.com - https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile

1. Primitive emotional contagion. Hatfield, Elaine; Cacioppo, John T.; Rapson, Richard L. Clark, Margaret S. (Ed), (1992). Emotion and social behavior. Review of personality and social psychology, Vol. 14., (pp. 151-177). Thousand Oaks, CA, US: Sage Publications, Inc, xi, 311 pp.

2. Abel E. and Kruger M. (2010) Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity, Psychological Science, 21, 542–544.

3. Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett; 2009:258.

4. R.D. (2000). Neural correlates of conscious emotional experience. In R.D. Lane & L. Nadel (Eds.), Cognitive neuroscience of emotion (pp. 345–370). New York: Oxford University Press.

5. Karren KJ, et al. Mind/Body Health: The Effect of Attitudes, Emotions and Relationships. New York, N.Y.: Benjamin Cummings, 2010:461.

6. Facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research Phil Trans R Soc B June 12, 2011 366: 1638-1659.

7. O’Doherty, J., Winston, J., Critchley, H. Perrett, D., Burt, D.M., and Dolan R.J., (2003) Beauty in a smile: the role of medial orbitofrontal cortex in facial attractiveness. Neuropsychologia, 41, 147–155.

8. Sonnby–Borgström, M. (2002), Automatic mimicry reactions as related to differences in emotional empathy. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 43: 433–443.


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