The Science of Smiles
In nearly all of human history, we have tried to comprehend the complicated cause of human happiness. Ancient philosophers like Aristotle tried to find explanations for the differences between pleasure and pain. For most of this venture, as Harvard psychology professor named Daniel Gilbert said in an interview with Harvard Business Review, we’ve approached happiness from a philosophical approach: What is happiness?
It’s only recently that we’ve taken a scientific approach. Our discoveries have lead to some fascinating conclusions. It turns out the science of smiling has a lot to do with our happiness.
Studying something as seemingly subjective as happiness may seem futile. However, when you consider the question, “How are you?” you’ll find that you always have an answer. People typically know if they’re happy or not. Today, we can even measure brain activity to objectively determine if a person is happy or not.
On paper, happiness and a smile may be obviously linked. We smile when we laugh and are pleased. Examining the actual science of smiling, however, offers concrete data to prove the connection between the two.
UC Berkeley once conducted a landmark study on how smiling is linked to success. The group looked at photos in an old high school yearbook and actually measured the size of their smiles. Over 30 years, they measured the well-being and happiness of those pictured. By the conclusion of the study, the group could predict how long someone’s marriage would last, how highly they would score on a standardized test of well-being and happiness, and how inspiring they would be to others.
Those with the widest smiles consistently ranked the highest in all of the above.
In 2010, Wayne State University conducted an experiment where they looked at baseball cards from MLB players in the 1950s. Players with the widest smiles in their pictures lived about eight years longer than those who didn’t smile at all!
Other evidence has presented itself over time that proves humans are a naturally smiling species.
In 2011, Ron Guntman, the founder and CEO of HealthTap, did a TED Talk where he showed 3D models of babies still in the womb. He stated that babies appear to be smiling even before birth, and many newborn babies continue to smile in their sleep and when they hear a human voice.
As it turns out, the natural habit of smiling continues long into childhood. On average, kids smile up to 400 times a day.
When it comes to adults, 30 percent of us smile over 20 times a day, and 14 percent of us smile less than five times a day.
Thank goodness for kids, then.
As Uppsala University in Sweden found, it’s very difficult to frown while looking at a person smiling. When we looking at people grinning, it suppresses our control of our facial muscles, compelling us to smile.
So what does smiling really have to do with happiness? For Charles Darwin, everything. In his book The Origin of the Species, he hypothesized with his Facial Feedback Response Theory that smiling actually makes us happier.
So if you’re ever feeling sad or angry, just trying smiling. It may actually make you happier.
Obviously, we’re less compelled to grin when we’re not confident in our smiles. You should never be afraid to showcase a smile because, as we know now, it has incredible emotional benefits. If you’ve ever been self-conscious of your teeth, it’s time to invest in your happiness.
Here at Paradigm Dental, we offer a broad selection of options to better your smile, such as Invisalign. Whether you’re looking for straighter teeth, a whitening agent, or implants, we can guarantee the best treatment in Beaverton. Schedule a consult or appointment today and start your journey to a brighter and happier smile.