Smiling changes the way you see the world - even if it's artificial

IThe year 2020 has so far given us many reasons to look sad. The biggest is probably the corona pandemic .But the next time you want to twist the corners of your mouth downward, try the opposite: grin. At least that's what researchers at the University of South Australia advise. In a study that has just been published in the specialist magazine "Experimental Psychology", they found that when we smile ourselves, we also perceive the world around us as being more positive.

This effect appears to occur even when the smile is forced.  "If your muscles tell you that you are happy, then it is more likely that you see the world around you in a more positive light," says study leader Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos. We found that when someone forces themselves to laugh, it stimulates the amygdala - the emotional center of the brain. It in turn releases neurotransmitters that lead to a positive emotional state. " 

This finding could help researchers in the long term to help people achieve better mental health. "If we can trick the brain into perceiving certain things as 'happy', it could improve mental health," says Marmolejo-Ramos.

In short: What we do and how we behave influences how we see the world. When you smile, the world is more positive for you. Or, as the head of the study puts it: the “Fake it 'til you make it” approach is not that wrong. Sometimes.