When it comes to increasing our happiness, it’s important to remember that the tools take different levels of effort, and it’s helpful to have a menu of tools – available for choosing at the right moments.
Recently, I presented 10 positive psychology tools to help increase happiness at Israel’s paramedic school. The first tool has no cost and is the easiest to carry out: Smiling.
Creating a full smile, known as a Duchenne smile — named after the neurologist who greatly advanced the the science of electrophysiology, Duchenne de Bologne — involves smiling using the muscles around your eyes as well as your mouth. Sometimes, we call it “smizing,” because it feels like you’re smiling with your eyes. While most people think the relationship is only reversed, research shows that facial expressions effect emotional experience. Smiling, even if you are faking it, can improve your mood.
Use this tool throughout your day, repeating it as often as possible, even for short periods. For maximum benefit, smile — even if not based on real emotion at the time — for one to two minutes.
For your own benefit, you can smile in private or public. To also positively impact and help lift the moods of those around you, share your smile in public. Our brains are wired for sociability, so when you smile in public, the moods of those around you can also be boosted.
Have a great day, and remember to smile!