– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – Expressing happiness influences the brain to generate positive feelings, new research has found.
Researchers from the University of Tennessee have analysed 50 years’ worth of data on the subject and found that there is a clear connection between acting happy and feeling happy.
The academics discovered that smiling made people feel happier, scowling made them feel angrier, and frowning made them feel sadder.
While they admitted that the effects were not very strong and should not be considered as a cure for mental health problems, they did suggest that learning to better express emotions could improve a person’s overall wellbeing.
“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,” reflected lead researcher Nicholas Coles. “Psychologists have actually disagreed about this idea for over 100 years, so we wanted to look at all the evidence.”
The academic went on to highlight that the findings could be used going forward to help gain a better understanding of the connection between the mind and the body, and could lead to future advances in therapy and psychological care.
“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,” he enthused. “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.”