7 ways smiling will make you more productive

Takeaway: Smiling boosts your immunity, makes you happier and look younger, helps you deal with stress and focus on the bigger picture, makes others trust you more, and of course, feels great.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 20s.

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One thing before you read this – smiles can be divided into two buckets – ‘Duchenne’ smiles, and forced smiles. Duchenne smiles engage the muscles around your eyes and mouth, and are much more effective in producing these results!

smile1

Sure, smiling is fun, but did you know it can also make you more productive? Here are 7 scientifically-backed benefits to smiling more!

1Smiling boosts your immunity. Studies have shown that on a biochemical level, smiling releases endorphins. “Endorphins are natural painkillers”, and the “more endorphins your brain releases, the more your body can fight off symptoms of illness.”1

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Smiling makes you happier (duh), but there’s also a scientific component to this, because “smiling releases serotonin”. Serotonin acts as a natural anti-depressant, and helps regulate your mood, sleep, and even your learning.2 “[W]orkers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do”, and generally, happier people work harder than unhappy people (and get more done). It makes logical sense that smiling more makes you happier, but it’s good to know that science has got intuition’s back on this one.

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On average, smiling makes you look 2 years younger. A recent study at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin “asked 150 men and women to guess the ages of the faces from over 1,000 photographs” and found that “happy faces were voted as the youngest looking”.3 The pictures with smiling faces were voted as two years younger on average.

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Smiling helps you deal with stress. Yet another study (yes, I’m a fan of studies) had participants hold chopsticks in their teeth in a way that made them inadvertently smile (they didn’t know they were smiling). After that exercise, the participants completed a stressful exercise that, unbeknownst to the participants, tested their ability to deal with stress. Participants who smiled beforehand (especially those who wore Duchenne smiles), had a lower heart rate and felt less frazzled after the experiment.4

smile25Smiling makes others trust you more. If you deal with a lot of people, a genuine smile has been shown to increase trustworthiness. People who smile are even rated higher in extraversion and generosity!5 One interesting study aimed to measure the exact impact a smile would have on someone’s a person’s willingness to trust you. The study found that a smile increased someone’s willingness to trust by 10%!6

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Smiling helps you focus on the bigger picture. If you are looking to step back what you’re doing to see the bigger picture, smiling just might help you out. A study out of the Cognition & Emotion Journal found that participants who wore Duchenne smiles were able to manage their attention better, and were better able to step back from the work they were doing to focus on the bigger picture.7

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Smiling feels damn good! Here’s a fun, 5-second experiment if you want to play along at home. First, think of a happy thought that will make you smile. Now, think of an unhappy thought and try to keep wearing that smile. Pretty hard to do! Smiling feels damn good, and it sends a signal to your body that says everything is okay, and that you should be happy.

Watermelon image source.


  1. Source: http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/duchenne-smile-benefits#axzz2YqRPASlz 

  2. Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232248.php 

  3. Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/10/smiling-makes-you-look-two-years-younger_n_1085672.html 

  4. Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323699704578326363601444362.html 

  5. Source: http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(07)00064-5/abstract 

  6. Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167487001000599 

  7. Source: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02699930903384667#.UeAoUxaevU4 

  • :-)

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  • As someone who’s typically described as stoic, this is tough for me. But great motivation to keep working at it!

    • I was surprised by just how many benefits smiling had, so it is pretty damn motivating! This is an idea that I have found repeats often in what I read – your mind often looks to your body for how to act, and then adjusts accordingly :)

  • As someone who’s typically described as stoic, this is tough for me. But great motivation to keep working at it!

    • I was surprised by just how many benefits smiling had, so it is pretty damn motivating! This is an idea that I have found repeats often in what I read – your mind often looks to your body for how to act, and then adjusts accordingly :)

  • Two years younger on average. Hmm, that ones is fascinating to me. I guess that would make sense as that could make you more attractive and we often associate that with youth. That’s just a guess though. These are all just great reasons to start smiling every day. :)

    • :) Really good point! That’s what I thought at first blush too, but then I read that the result was stronger for women, which just confused me more! Haha, interesting result nonetheless!

  • Two years younger on average. Hmm, that ones is fascinating to me. I guess that would make sense as that could make you more attractive and we often associate that with youth. That’s just a guess though. These are all just great reasons to start smiling every day. :)

    • :) Really good point! That’s what I thought at first blush too, but then I read that the result was stronger for women, which just confused me more! Haha, interesting result nonetheless!

  • Ellen Symons

    I’d like to post a link to your article on the Body Poets Facebook page, if you don’t mind. These studies and stats are news to me, but the real life impact on people’s health of fostering joy at the workplace is something I experience daily.

    • Absolutely, please do! The results really are impressive, especially when you see them all at once! Haha

  • I’d like to post a link to your article on the Body Poets Facebook page, if you don’t mind. These studies and stats are news to me, but the real life impact on people’s health of fostering joy at the workplace is something I experience daily.

    • Absolutely, please do! The results really are impressive, especially when you see them all at once! Haha

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