Most people have heard that smiling makes you feel better than frowning, and that smiling can boost physical and mental health. But few people have been told that not all smiles are created equal. The fact is, researchers have proven that a very specific type of smile known as the Duchenne smile brings health benefits more powerful than any other smile.
This secret technique is so powerful that once you learn it, you should experience immediate improvements to your health…well-being…and overall success.
Let’s first review the amazing ways in which simply “putting on a happy face” can do your body good.
General Health Benefits of Smiling
Smiling has widespread mental and physical health benefits. More then merely an automatic expression of friendliness, politeness or a good mood, smiling also influences our brain chemistry, triggering feelings of happiness and pleasure. Even if we feel quite miserable, we can give ourselves a real boost by smiling. Simply changing our facial expression can improve how we see ourselves and the world.
The health benefits stimulated by smiling are wide ranging. Researchers have shown how smiling can positively affect several functions, including:
• Immune system strength
• Sense of well-being and positive outlook
• Blood pressure
• Resilience against stress
On a biochemical level, smiling releases endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins are natural painkillers. The more endorphins your brain releases, the more your body can fight off symptoms of illness.
Similarly, serotonin is a brain chemical that acts as a natural anti-depressant. Reshaping our mouth from a frown to a smile literally sparks serotonins, dramatically shifting our sense of well-being from negative to positive.
Not All Smiles are Created Equal
Surprisingly, studies clearly verify that some smiles have more impact than others.
Until now, you may have thought that all smiles are more or less the same. After all, every culture around the globe recognizes a smile. But the most amazing smile of all is the one proven by science to confer the most powerful, immediate benefits — the Duchenne smile.
Guillaume Duchenne: Pioneering Researcher of Smiles
Of all smiles, the Duchenne smile holds the most magic. It is named for Guillaume Duchenne, a 19th century French physician widely acknowledged as one of the founders of modern neurology.
Dr. Duchenne made dozens of discoveries linking brain function to muscle control.He was among the first to describe muscular dystrophy and several other paralytic disorders. He also spent years researching the countless emotional secrets our facial expressions can reveal.
Above all, Duchenne was interested in smiles. He documented dozens of their hidden characteristics. One of the discoveries he made was of such significance to his work that he labeled it with his own name — it’s a feature that scientists to this day describe as the Duchenne smile.
What Makes the Duchenne Smile So Powerful?
The Duchenne smile is different from other smiles due the exact muscles involved in creating it, and the powerful benefits it confers.
All facial expressions are formed by contractions of the many muscles surrounding the skull and jaw. The primary muscle involved in smiling is the one that pulls up the corners of the mouth — the zygomatic major muscle. Every type of smile requires the help of the zygomatic major.
But Duchenne smiles call on certain other muscles — namely those at the top of the cheeks and around the eyes, the orbicularis oculi. The orbicularis oculi are the muscles that pull your eyes into a squint, making for wrinkles at the bridge of the nose and around the eyes’ outside edges.
Duchenne declared that smiles involving the orbicularis oculi muscles were authentic expressions of joy. Since Duchenne’s time, research has gone further to prove his theory. In 2001, scientists publishing in the journal Developmental Psychology singled out the Duchenne smile as the most positive expression of happiness the face can convey.
The Duchenne smile also appears to be a strong indicator of success. Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley studied the expressions of 111 women. Just under half displayed the Duchenne smile — the “authentic smile of happiness” — and they tended to be more successful, more likely to be married, and more content with their lives. Lead researcher Dacher Keltner called the power of the Duchenne smile “a virtuous circle.”
The study was replicated in 2006 by a group of Australian psychiatrists who published almost identical results. They also concluded that those who exhibited only a mouth smile, without the uninhibited squinting, were typically less satisfied.
Other researchers across the field have even come to call the simple mouth smile a “social smile.” By this they mean that it may express happiness … but it could just as likely mute sad feelings in a public setting or hide anger and frustration with others.
Some psychologists go so far as to call it the “Botox” smile, where happiness may or may not even be present.
Smile Your Way to Happiness
Researchers conclude that while smiling can deliver a wide range of health benefits, the Duchenne smile — the authentically joyful smile — holds the real power. When you begin to consciously practice the Duchenne smile, you spark a fireworks display of brain activity, the kind where happiness is almost guaranteed to follow.
In fact, the Berkeley researchers concluded the Duchenne smile is so effective that 95% of people who use it experience authentic happiness. That means only 5% of people are able to fake happiness with this smile.
The message of this research is incredibly simple: tug at that zygomatic major (the corners of your mouth), then scrunch up those orbicularis oculi (the corners of your eyes) … then feel positivity and good energy flow, unleashing myriad health and life benefits.
With the Duchenne smile, you’re using some of nature’s best medicine to open the secret floodgates to good health and success.