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Don’t Turn That Frown Upside Down?

Image Credit: Nickelodeon/Viacom

You can’t force yourself to be happy.

How many times have you been in the worst mood and your most upbeat, chipper friend comes barreling over and tells you to “turn that frown upside down?” Or, how many times have you been told that you can fake a smile and trick your brain into thinking that you are happy? Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.

Researchers who studied 50 years worth of data with over 300 experiments found that smiling only boosts happiness by a small fraction. The study showed that people can smile all they want, but that doesn’t translate into actual happiness. You could still be exuding a feeling of happiness without having to smile to show it.

They saw the same minimal effects if you had a scowl on your face. The expressions that you make really don’t have a bearing on how you feel. Scientists continue to try experiments to prove that your mood can be shown by expressions on your face. They are becoming increasingly frustrated that the numbers aren’t producing the results they desire.

They mentioned another study that took place this year in which service workers who were forced to smile more were more likely to drink after work than people who had their normal expressions. Being forced to do something that isn’t genuine will build up stress over time and produce negative results. Forcing yourself to smile is not going to force your mood to change.

So, the next time your chipper friend tells you how to feel, feel free to tell them how you really feel!