“Most people prefer a smile to a frown. It’s human nature. Even dogs respond with wagging tails to a smile and other shows of affection.” – Dalai Lama

SMILE – it’s one of the most basic human behaviors. But what is it for, exactly…?

It is a reflex for newborns to respond with it. New parents frequently misinterpret this as a reaction to their presence, even though babies do not smile socially until they are six to eight weeks old. The fact that new parents interpret the initial reflex smiles with joy demonstrates the complexity of smiling: there’s the physical act, and then there’s the social interpretation – the smile and what it represents.

A smile is simple on a mechanical level. The orbicularis oris, a ring that wraps around the mouth, is one of 17 pairs of muscles that control expression in the human face. A message is sent out over the sixth and seventh cranial nerves when the brain decides to smile. These go from the brows to the chin on each side of the face, connecting to a group of muscles that control the lips, nose, eyes, and forehead.

A Brief History of the Smile

Smiling has a long cultural history, from back to the 2,500-year-old grinning Greek kouros statues and up to today’s emojis.

Emojis featuring happy expressions are by far the most popular in online conversations. Oxford Dictionaries named the most popular emoji of all time, the happy face, as the 2015 Word of the Year. Smiles, like this emoji, indicate a lot more than just happiness — tears give an ironic twist – they also convey a lot more.

Thousands of participants from 44 cultures were polled in a 2016 study published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior regarding sets of eight pictures, four of which were smiling and four of which were not. The majority of participants thought smiling faces were more honest than non-smiling faces. In some nations, such as Switzerland, Australia, and the Philippines, the disparity was enormous, while in others, such as Pakistan, Russia, and France, it was minor.

Science Says Smiles are The Most Recognized Expression

They don’t know why, though. In his seminal work The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, published in 1872, Charles Darwin addresses the meaning and usefulness of smiling. Darwin, like many others, sees a smile as the beginning of a chain. He says, “A smile, therefore, may be regarded to represent the initial stage in the development of a laugh,” before reversing course and speculating that the smile is actually the remnant of laughing.

Gender (usually, women smile more) and culture are found to be factors in the scientific research of smiles. People smile more when they are in public than when they are alone, and when they are interacting with others than when they are not.

The Benefits of Smiling

Many people think of smiling as an automatic reaction to things that make them happy or laugh. While this is undoubtedly true, most people overlook the fact that smiling may be a voluntary response as well as a deliberate and powerful choice.

Numerous scientific studies have shown that a genuine smile is often regarded as appealing by others around us. Other research has revealed how smiling can improve your mood and the mood of others around you. Others have discovered a substantial correlation between good health, longevity, and the ability to smile. Most crucially, studies have shown that simply smiling (creating actual facial shapes and movements) can have both short- and long-term advantages on people’s health and wellbeing, whether it is the consequence of genuine delight or an act.

Here is a closer look at some of the biggest benefits of smiling, according to science.

Smiling Provides Stress Relief

Stress can pervade our entire being and manifest itself in our appearance. Smiling not only makes us look less fatigued, worn down, and overwhelmed, but it can also help us feel less stressed.

Even if you don’t feel like smiling or aren’t aware that you’re smiling, smiling might help you relax. Take the time to smile while you’re feeling pressured. The benefits will flow to you and those around you.

Smiling Cheers You Up

Try putting on a smile the next time you’re feeling gloomy. There’s a strong probability your disposition will improve. Because the physical act of smiling activates neuronal transmission in your brain, it can fool your body into helping you improve your mood.

A simple smile can cause the production of neuropeptides that improve brain communication as well as mood-enhancing neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. In other words, smiling can act as a natural antidepressant.

Smiling Cheers Others Up Too

How many times has a smile been described as having the ability to light up a room? While it is a lovely sentiment, it also has a kernel of truth. Smiling can not only improve your attitude, but it can also improve the moods of others and make things more comfortable.

An unconscious automatic reaction area in your brain is in charge of directing your facial expression when you smile. Meaning, when it comes to our propensity of mirroring another person’s smile, smiling can be completely unconscious. Yes, smiles are scientifically shown to be “contagious!”

Smiling Can Boost Your Immune System

Smiling has been shown to improve overall health. Smiling actually improves the effectiveness of the human immune system. Immune function is supposed to enhance when you smile because you are more calm (thanks to the release of certain neurotransmitters).

A quick grin can also lower your blood pressure. There is a measurable fall in blood pressure when you smile. If you have a blood pressure monitor at home, give it a shot.

Take a few minutes to sit and read. After that, smile for a minute and repeat the process while still smiling. You should notice a difference.

Smiling can even help relieve pain. Smiling releases endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin, according to studies. These three neurotransmitters work together to make us feel good from head to toe. These natural compounds not only improve your mood, but they also relax your body and relieve pain. Smiling is a natural painkiller.

In addition to all this, smiling can also help you look younger, be perceived as more successful and look more attractive. So go ahead, give us a smile, even if you really don’t feel like it!