I was reading an article the other day and for the life of me I can’t remember where if it was a physical magazine, newspaper or if it was online any how the article really stuck out to me hence me writing this article to get your take on this issue. Let me first start by sharing with you the article I am paraphrasing here. The article had a picture of a woman who confessed that she had not smiled in any picture for twenty years as she believed that smiling made her age quicker and not smiling made her look young and age slower due to the muscles used when smiling around your face. ” She did look pretty good for her age not sure if photo shop was involved there”
To Smile or Not to Smile that is the Question
I thought about it and I realized that I myself actually do not smile in most if not all my pictures and when I asked my self why I came to the same conclusion as the article because when I was younger I’d always heard the saying from teachers at school and parents I’m sure you’ve heard it to that “If you frown too long and too hard the wind will blow and your face will stay that way forever” That statement as a child use to scare the banners out of me and I genuinely believed it to be true. Of course over the years I got into the habit of not smiling in pictures and I have taken a lot of pictures in my life coming from a very large family so plenty of occasions and family gatherings to pose for pictures.
Now I am a very happy person and I’ve been told I display a pleasant and welcoming personality by many of my friends, clients, colleges and family.But I remember a couple of years ago someone reaching out to me on LinkedIn and telling me that they didn’t like my LinkedIn profile as it looked unwelcoming because I wasn’t smiling. I was shocked to say the least as I had been using that same profile picture for over a year and getting and growing my connections on LinkedIn with no problems and no one else had ever mentioned that problem to me before.
My first initial reaction was to take the picture down immediately then I decided to do a personal research and looked around LinkedIn to observe other profile pictures and what an elevating experience it was it really helped me to ground myself back to positivity. I thought to myself that if I smiled it would not be a true reflection of ‘me’ so I decided to ignore the comment and put it down to her having a bad day.
The Psychological Study of Smiling
For decades, many psychologists agreed that smiles reflected a vast array of emotions rather than a universal expression of happiness. This belief persisted until the 1970s, when Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen, psychologists at the University of California at San Francisco, captured the precise muscular coordinates behind 3,000 facial expressions in their Facial Action Coding System, known as FACS. Ekman and Friesen used their system to resurrect Duchenne’s distinction, by that time forgotten, between genuine smiles of enjoyment and other types of smiles.
In subsequent research, conducted with Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin, Ekman and Friesen confirmed the unique link between positive emotion and the true Duchenne smile. The researchers attached electrodes to the heads of test participants and then showed them a series of short films. Two shorts, designed to produce positive emotions, displayed frolicking animals; two others, meant to evoke negative responses, came from a nurse training video depicting amputated legs and severe burns.
Using FACS, the researchers catalogued viewer reactions and found that Duchenne smiles correlated with the pleasant films. The neural data revealed that Duchenne smiles produced greater activity in the brain’s left anterior temporal region, an area with clear connections to positive affect. (They also recorded an increase in the left parietal region, typically stimulated by verbal activity.) All told, scientists were wrong to lump smiles together as a “single class of behavior,” the trio concluded in a 1990 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Clearly the Duchenne smile…is a better sign of enjoyment than other kinds of smiles.”
A renewed appreciation for Duchenne and his unique sign of joy emerged. Mental health researchers soon noticed that wherever positive emotions went, Duchenne smiles followed. Patients with depression brandished more Duchenne smiles on their discharge interviews than during their admissions, and Duchenne smiling alone — not other types of grins — was found to increase over the course of psychotherapy. Even casual, untrained observers could identify Duchenne-style faces, and based on these looks alone, assigned highly positive traits to the personality behind them.
Some researchers now believe that genuine smiles are not transient sparks of emotion but rather clear windows into a person’s core disposition. University of California at Berkeley psychological scientists LeeAnne Harker and Dacher Keltner used FACS to analyze the college yearbook photos of women, then matched up the smile ratings with personality data collected during a 30-year longitudinal study. Women who displayed true, Duchenne-worthy expressions of positive emotion in their 21-year-old photo had greater levels of general well-being and marital satisfaction at age 52. “People photograph each other with casual ease and remarkable frequency, usually unaware that each snapshot may capture as much about the future as it does the passing emotions of the moment,” Harker and Keltner wrote in a 2001 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. A related study, published in a 2009 issue of Motivation and Emotion, confirmed a correlation between low-intensity smiles in youth and divorce later in life.
Why Faking a Smile Is a Good Thing
Now I read this article on forbes by Roger Dooley brain & behaviour researcher who stated that Pasting a smile on your face, even if you are consciously faking it, can improve your mood and reduce stress.
Personally for me I get where he’s coming from if you are in that awkward moment with the mother in law that you don’t get along with so you just smile and bare the day until it’s over.
But I wander if it’s healthy to constantly be smiling if you don’t feel like it? And if you don’t genuinely get on with that person. Isn’t that telling a lie to yourself? Or smiling at work, or on a CV profile or any other profile because it would give you a better chance and a greater advantage of winning that deal, getting that job and coming across more likeable.
Do share would love to hear your views on this