A Super Fast Way To Boost Your Mood
If you want to fool your brain into thinking you’re in a happy mood, all you have to do is smile. However, there is one critical part you have to remember – if you just smile with your mouth and cheeks, it doesn’t work. You have to make sure you also crinkle the corners of your eyes.
Prof. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and others have found that certain parts of our brain are activated by different emotions. Because of this brain mapping, they can see what areas of our brain light up when we’re happy.
In one study described in Davidson’s book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live–and How You Can Change Them, researchers told volunteers to smile using just their cheek muscles as researchers monitored their EEG (electroencephalogram that monitors brain waves). The results showed that electrical activity in the brain was not all that different from brain activity at baseline.
In the second part of the study, they asked participants to smile with both their cheek and eye muscles. Only when both muscle groups were used did they see a greater left-side activation of the prefrontal region in the brain that’s associated with feelings of happiness. They now had brain data to prove that a “genuine” smile can make us happier.
What I love about this fantastic research is that you can try it for yourself. Right now, try smiling with just your mouth and cheeks. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Now ALSO crinkle the corner of your eyes so you’re using the muscles around your eyes. Hold for 5-10 seconds. I would love to hear about your experience! I find when I include my eyes, the smile starts to feel real, and pretty soon it’s easier to keep smiling because I feel happier.
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Tina Hallis, Ph.D. is Chief Positivity Officer of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures. She is certified in Positive Psychology, an authorized partner for Everything DiSC®, and a Professional Member of the National Speaker’s Association