When people get happy, they often smile. New research shows that when people smile, on the other hand, they get happy.
Researchers at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville reviewed 138 studies, which covered over 11,000 people. The process of combining studies is called meta-analysis. The researchers, in the case, do not do any direct research of their own. Some of the studies went back as much as 50 years.
The researchers found that there is not total agreement on the subject. Many scientific papers on the study said there is no relationship between smiling first and feeling happy next. Nicholas Coles, Ph.D. student in social psychology and lead researcher on the paper, said: “Conventional wisdom tells us that we can feel a little happier if we simply smile. Or that we can get ourselves in a more serious mood if we scowl. But psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 100 years.”
The change in people’s feelings when they smile, even when present, can be muted. Facial expressions have a “small impact,” the researcher pointed out.
However, the researchers said their work is conclusive: “We don’t think that people can smile their way to happiness. But these findings are exciting because they provide a clue about how the mind and the body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotion. We still have a lot to learn about these facial feedback effects, but this meta-analysis put us a little closer to understanding how emotions work.” And these are happiest countries in the world.
All in all, it does not take much effort to try.