“Sometimes joy is the source of your smile and sometimes your smile is the source of your joy,” said Buddhist monk Thich Nate Huna. “A smile in life and life will give you back that smile,” reads some posters of Mr. Wonderful, the pose-obsessed company par excellence. Arthur Koestler defended himself when he criticized his agreement with the Nazis in his criticism of Stalin: “No one can prevent people from being right for the wrong reasons.”
Positive psychology, adapting ancient philosophical teachings into self-help books or turning all kinds of motivational phrases into commerce, is part of a huge work. The idea that getting up in the morning with the will to eat the world will make you snack in the afternoon has a lot of status and one of the foundations of that philosophy of life. The power of a smile. If you smile, even against your will, life and your fellow human beings will be kinder to you.
In academic psychology, the person who attempts to separate reality from illusion and who seeks to be right for the right reasons, the possibility that the activation of certain facial muscles eliciting an emotional reaction has been studied with the greatest seriousness for decades. The so-called facial reflexes hypothesis was proposed by Charles Darwin in 1872 when he said that the outward expression of an emotion “intensifies” it or “even mimics the emotion of what has caused that emotion to be aroused in our mind”. William JamesOne of the fathers of psychology stated at the same time that contrary to popular belief that experiencing an emotion leads to the production of a physical expression such as smiling or crying, the opposite is what happens. We are sad because we cry and we will not cry because we are sad. James, who had a fanatical belief in the will, believed that if one refused to express a feeling, that feeling dies.
Now, an international group of researchers has shown, after overcoming decades of controversy, that although not necessarily for the right reasons, Buddhist monks and Mr. Wonderful posters have a point. Smiling improves mood, if only slightly.
In a paper published in the magazine The nature of human behavior It explains how the possibility of smiling on our mood has been tested with different tests. On the other hand, experiments were conducted in which participants realized that they were smiling, bringing the corner of their lips close to their ears, or looking at pictures of people smiling and imitating them. But it has also been attempted to find out whether the unconscious muscle movement typical of a smile has emotional effects. This is achieved through a classic experiment that over the years has achieved controversial results. Volunteers force a smile without knowing it by biting a pencil or drawing a sad face trying to catch it with their lips, a gesture that forces them to frown.
After analyzing data from 3,878 participants in 19 countries, led by the authors Nicholas Coles, from Stanford University (USA), noted that both those who imitated smiles in the pictures and those who imposed them alone noticed a certain increase in their happiness. However, those who smiled with the help of the pencil did not experience those feelings. “This study shows that in order to have this effect of making us happy because we smile, we have to be conscious of smiling,” explains Jose Antonio Hinojosa, a professor at the Complutense University of Madrid and co-author of the study.
Pedro Montoro, a researcher at the National University of Distance Education (UNED)., in Madrid, who is also anticipating the study, said. “The scale we use is from one to seven and the values are a little higher than three. It is a statistically significant increase, but it seems to most authors that this would not be useful as a treatment.”
The authors assert that the . hypothesis facial reactions It makes sense and they tend to believe that there is a two-way relationship, when one is happy, one smiles, but also “it is interesting to see that there is an effect of responses from muscle sensation to subjective sensation,” Montoro points out. Nicholas Coles also points out that, at least in part, “the conscious experience of emotion must be based on bodily sensations.” To some extent we feel sad because we cry and happy because we smile. Coles believes that this type of study is necessary to gain an in-depth understanding of the nature of something as essential to humanity as feelings, but this knowledge is still in its infancy. As we move forward, it will be necessary to continue to manage emotions, hoping to do it the right way, even if we don’t get it right for the right reasons.
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