Smiling can change your mood, because human emotion is highly malleable. Pretend that you are happy, and you will feel happy, pretend that you are angry, and you will feel angry—this is an effect well known to actors, and has been extensively studied by psychologists following the tradition of William James and self- perception theory.
However, there's much more to smiling. There's evidence that people found cartoons funnier when they bit a pen in a way that triggers their "smiling" muscles, and less funny when they pouted. Recently, scientists from the University of Sussex reported that when we smile, we perceive other people's frowns as less severe, and when we frown we see other people's smile as less joyful.
But smile, it seems, can even change the way we see neutral expressions.
|Captured this when I visited the Nagoya Port Aquarium in Japan, obviously the happiest beluga in the world.|
Their results how that when the participants saw the happy faces, their faces changed from neutral to happy, as just we'd expect. However, the interesting thing about the results is that when the participants adopted a smiling face, they saw—or their brain perceived—a neutral face as if it were smiling.
|Captured these heart-warming images outside the Nagoya Port Aquarium in Japan.|
And that's something really worth feeling happy for.