Ever hear a yoga teacher instruct you to “gently turn up the corners of your mouth”? A smile not only affects your mood and the moods of those around you, but it can actually forecast your future. Humans begin to practice this universal expression of joy and satisfaction even before birth: 3-D ultrasound technology shows that babies smile in the womb. Children smile as much as 400 times per day, which is why they’re believed to be the most carefree among us. As for adults, only one-third of us smile more than 20 times a day. We hope the fun facts below will increase your smile stats!
- In a study at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers examined photos in old yearbooks and were able to predict with some accuracy how well students would score on standardized tests, how long and fulfilling their marriages would be, and even how much they would inspire others.
- A 2010 Wayne State University research project looking at smiles on pre-1950s major-league baseball players’ cards found that the span of a player’s smile could actually predict the span of his life. The players who didn’t smile lived 72.9 years, while those who grinned in their photos lived an average of almost 80 years.
- In a Swedish study, researchers found that it’s very difficult to frown when you’re looking at someone who’s smiling. (But we knew this already.)
- Smiling can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine, while increasing the level of mood-enhancing chemicals such as endorphins.
- According to the facial feedback hypothesis, first proposed by Charles Darwin, smiling isn’t just a result of feeling good—the act of smiling can actually create more enjoyment and good feelings, rather than the other way around.
- Smiling is even more powerful than chocolate. A British study proved that a single smile can generate the same positive brain chemistry as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.
Ever pasted a smile on your face and then, somewhere along the way, realized it had turned genuine? Tell us about a time you started out with a “just gotta get through this” attitude, and then discovered you were actually enjoying yourself.