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Happier New Year: Managing our Moods #1 January 4, 2016

Posted by P, J, or J in happier.
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Smile

It’s that time of year when people make plans (and blog posts) for a happier year ahead. In “5 Tips for a Better Year: How to avoid the habit of defeat“, blogger Derek Ouellette, had at number 5 “Smile more” stating as a scientific fact that smiling actually makes you happier.

“The simple act of smiling sends a message to your brain that you’re happy. And when you’re happy, your body pumps out all kinds of feel-good endorphins.”

I tried it. I smiled and, at least for a moment or two, felt happier.

Chances are you’ve just tried it too (or are about to). Did it work for you?

But I was still a little suspicious of the science and Derek’s link to an article saying it was true didn’t point to sources so I googled further and found a 1989 New York Times article “A Feel-Good Theory: A Smile Affects Mood” and a wikipedia page on the facial feedback hypothesis with lots more links. Sounds like there may be something in it after all.

It’s not about faking it and pretending all is well with your world when it isn’t but as a nudge towards a better mood it seems worth the minimal effort of twitching a few facial muscles. (apparently you can also get a few feel good endorphins from exercise but that takes moving more muscles).

Sadly the wikipedia entry also points to research suggesting that smiling may not have the same feedback response for some people with autism, and guess what – you can’t just smile your way out of clinical depression.

Not sure how long this blog series will run but we have six more thinks on our own list of things to do for a happier new year.

Meanwhile, I’m going to conduct my own research and ask facebook friends to smile at random moments and feedback their results. Feel free to do the same and feedback your own results.

 

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