Happy-U Bloggity Blog

Holistic Approach to Positive Psychology & Yoga

Why Smiling When You’re Sad Can Make You Feel WORSE!

on September 21, 2012

So, you’ve probably heard the advice that if you are in a bad mood, the best thing you can do is smile. That by smiling, you actually help yourself to feel better. Act the way you want to feel, right?

It turns out, this is only partially true!

Studies have found that if you smile with your mouth only (aka Awkward Photo Smile), you actually can make yourself feel WORSE. This is because there’s a lack of integrity between what is true (you feel like shit) and what your face is trying to do (look happy). It causes a discord within you, and that feels even worse.


Me, holding my newborn baby sister = Fake Smile


However, if you smile with you mouth AND your EYES, (aka a Duchenne Smile), it DOES in fact send a trigger to your brain to feel BETTER!


Me, holding my newborn baby iPad = Real Smile


It’s TRUE! Studies show that getting a new iPad is more smile-worthy than getting a new sister!

I’m just kidding…

Okay, okay, here are some better examples…

Julia: Fake Smile/ Real Smile

I don’t know who this guy is, but Fake Smile/Real Smile

Furry Happiness Guru: Fake Smile/Real Smile


So if you want to feel BETTER, smile with your EYES. And if you want to feel WORSE, smile only with your mouth, and get even grumpier!

And just for fun, I came across this quiz you can take to see how good you are at discriminating between a fake smile and a real smile. If you want to take it (both to test this skill AND get an ego boost from seeing some pretty odd looking people who participated in the experiment), click below. I scored a 15 out of 20, how about you?



3 responses to “Why Smiling When You’re Sad Can Make You Feel WORSE!

  1. MaMaFlimFlam says:

    What a GREAT post! I am smiling with my eyes…can you see it? xoxox

  2. Jenna Carlson says:

    I scored 9 out of 20 . . . that was harder than I thought!

  3. nobodyyouwanttoknow says:

    I don’t test and i don’t quiz, but thanks for reminding us that life is equal parts of all the emotions, from the highest highs to the lowest lows we learn:)

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