Solely In Black and White: Don’t Smile!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Don’t Smile!


You’re not going to believe this, but smiling can be harmful to you. Well, I took that out of context a bit, but according to this study presented in the NYTimes, faking a smile may have unexpected consequences, mainly putting you in a bad mood! Now I have to tell you, this piece of scientific research is befuddling to say the least. For one, I remember being taught that one should greet their fellow with a pleasant face; i.e. a smile! One the other hand I recall having to smile even when I didn’t want to. Some of those occasions where innocuous, such as way too many pictures at some happy event, or worse, such as being in a situation that I was stuck in with no decent exit strategies, such as a bad date.

Regardless, I can attest that smiling insincerely doesn’t really work. That applies both on the giving end and the receiving end. To complicate matters further, once you’re married to someone and know their intricacies quite well it become almost pointless to fake a smile since your spouse can see right through-it, although generally this isn’t applicable, at least in my case. Hmmm… my wife is reading this post over my shoulder and smirking… :-/ Anyways, in the meantime when I choose not to smile, I will just walk around with my tongue sticking out (vis-à-vis:  :-P ) I can’t imagine that will do any harm! ;-)

P.S. I hope this post made you smile! :-)


  1. It's interesting. On the one hand, it makes sense. Because the effort of trying to smile when you really don't feel like it, can be quite stressful and therefore detrimental.

    On the other hand, just the act of smiling makes you feel better. I do it sometimes when I'm really not feeling like it, because I know that smiling releases endorphins which should make you feel more positive.

    Perhaps it's only good when you do it for yourself. When you paste on a smile for other people, the resulting emotional exhaustion probably negates any good that would come from it.

  2. Well- this isn't a problem for me- I couldn't hide my feelings if I tried! My face is an open book. When I'm happy, everyone knows it- the same is true for when I'm not so happy. I can see where faking happiness can be bad- although I will tell you that I was the smiliest single girl at every wedding I went to (and sometimes I wasn't in the best mtood) The trick was to imagine- I have a pretty good imagination- and I thought of things that make me smile- babies giggling, Stephen Colbert, silly times with friends, my best friend's wedding- etc. Then I could smile- but it wasn't fake at all!

  3. What about the study that showed that just the motion of smiling (stimulated by having to hold a pencil in one's lips) cheers one up?

  4. I don’t know that these two studies are contradictory. Perhaps in that study that you mentioned all the participants who were used were not averse to smiling at the time while the participants in this study were coerced to smile? Logically it makes sense, being forced to smile when one doesn’t want to might have a bad effect while smiling in and of itself may promote happiness as long as it not a product of compulsion.


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