When we are happy, we smile. A smile is not something that we consciously conjure, it is our brains way of expressing what we are feeling on the inside. What scientists are discovering however is that smiling may not just be the result of being happy, but it can also cause us to become happy, even when we are not.
In fascinating research done with botox patients, scientists have found that the way we control our facial expressions has a very profound effect on how we feel.
Psychologists from the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people who are unable to frown due to botox injections are a lot happier than those who can frown.
In their research, they gave a questionnaire to 25 females, half of which had received frown-inhibiting botox injections. The women who had received botox reported being more happy and less anxious in general. Importantly, they did not feel that they were any more attractive after the botox treatment, so the scientists ruled this out as the cause of their increased happiness.
Michael Lewis, one of the scientists involved in the study stated, "It would appear that the way we feel emotions is not just restricted to our brain-there are parts of our bodies that help and reinvigorate the feelings
we're having. "
This was not the only research that showed the effects of facial expressions on mood. Scientists at the Technical University of Munich in Germany performed a more objective study on botox patients and they found similar results.
In the study researchers used an fMRI brain scan to see the reaction of the brain as volunteers were asked to mimic various angry faces. Out of all the volunteers, the people who had received botox had much lower activity in the brain region that is associated with emotional processing such as the amygdala.
What is even more exciting is that this process also works in reverse. When you are unable to make sad faces then you are less likely to become sad. But if you want to feel instantly happier then one way you can do that is by putting a smile on your face.
Your brain receives feedback from your facial expressions and then releases "feel good" chemicals into your system. Scientists think that this process occurs because when you're smiling then your brain automatically thinks you are happy. When your brain thinks you're happy then it reinforces that with happy hormones and chemicals!
If you're feeling down then, or if you just want to put yourself into a happy mood, all you need to do is put a smile on your face. Its quick, its easy, and you'll be giving yourself all the benefits of a botox without actually having to get one!