Forcing a smile makes the brain happier, study finds

You know what they say BUZZ Fam, ‘fake it, till you make it’. And it turns it, you could do that with your happiness as well. Experts have found that fake smiling can trigger your happiness.

So here’s how it happens; smiling activates specific muscles in a person’s cheeks and this triggers positive emotions in the brain. 

In our research, we found that when you forcefully practise smiling, it stimulates the amygdala – the emotional centre of the brain – which releases neurotransmitters to encourage an emotionally positive state,” Dr Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, co-author of the study from the University of South Australia, said.

Participants in the study were asked to hold a pen between their teeth without letting the item touch their lips in order to forcefully trigger the cheek muscles. They were told to study the facial and features of  11 images. 

These were the same face but showing a variety of emotions, ranging from frowning to smiling.  

Participants then looked at the bodily functions of 11 video clips showing the outline of people walking. 

The study evaluated how people processed this information when forced to smile and when their face was relaxed.

For both facial and body analysis, people who were forced to smile were flooded with more positive emotions. 

Dr Marmolejo-Ramos, said that when you’re muscles are happy, you’re likely to see the world around you in a positive way.

Their research, he said, has huge implications for mental health, and dealing with stress.

“If we can trick the brain into perceiving stimuli as ‘happy’, then we can potentially use this mechanism to help boost mental health,” he said.

The findings are published in the journal Experimental Psychology.