It really is true that when we smile, the world smiles with us. Next time you find yourself in a room with a bunch of dour people, make a big smile and see the effect as all the people begin smiling back at you. This is a documented phenomenon, and researchers have even explained why it happens: people smile back to help them understand how you’re feeling.
Smile Simulation Model of Empathy
Interpreting facial expressions is hard work for the brain. It’s a complex process, even for an expression so simple and automatic as a smile. Researchers think that your body simulates the expressions it sees to help your brain figure out what those expressions mean.
When you see someone making an expression, your brain naturally “tries it on,” to help figure out what it means. Then your brain is able to associate the feedback from the expression with previous instances where you’ve made that expression, allowing it to identify the feeling that’s associated with it. A crucial part of this trying on process is that your brain actually receives emotional input from your facial muscles. That’s why you don’t just smile because you feel happy, you partly feel happy because you smile.
Smiling Is an Essential Social Tool
Because of this dynamic of trying on the expressions we see, smiling is vital to interacting with others. Smiling during a job interview helps the people on the other side smile, too, making them feel more positive about you, and it could help you secure a job.
Smiling is a vital leadership characteristic, too. It helps you establish positive rapport with people reporting to and working with you. And in America, leaders have to have a big, toothy smile. Concealing your teeth during a smile can diminish the perception of your leadership qualities.
Smiling during social situations is also crucial. People around you will have a better time if you can show them that you’re having a good time, too. If you’re consciously stifling your smile because it makes you embarrassed or uncomfortable, that will impact not just you, but everyone around you as well.
Feel Free to Smile
Unfortunately, not all of us have a smile we feel comfortable sharing. If you are unhappy with your current smile, we can help. We can talk about a smile makeover that can address all the concerns that keep you from smiling. From slight discoloration to missing teeth, modern cosmetic dentistry can help you get a beautiful smile you’ll love.