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Did you know the act of smiling is good for you? The simple gesture, one that most of us think of as showing other people how we feel, can actually affect our own happiness as well!

In fact, smiling has a way of working like a feedback loop: when something pleasant happens, and the muscles in your face make you smile, the act of smiling actually reinforces those positive feelings by sending more “feel good” sensations to your brain, which in turn make you smile even more!

And because smiling tells your brain that you feel good, even a manufactured smile can help bring about sensations of happiness! Thinking of a pleasant memory (to make yourself smile), or even just practicing the motions of your genuine smile, will actually make you feel happier!

These smiles stack up too! Smiling leads to more smiling, of course, but also reduces stress, can help foster improved social interactions and relationships, and even lead to a more successful career and a longer life!

A pair of studies, one focused on success and happiness in women, the other on longevity in men, both looked at the sincerity and quality of smiles in photographs for correlation to a long and/or happy life.

Both the “yearbook study” (focused on women) and the “baseball card study” (focused on men) found a strong correlation between those showing full, genuine smiles and longer, happier, more successful lives!

Smiles reinforce happiness and confidence, help maintain relationships, and help others connect with you, so why not make a point to smile as often as possible?

Flashing a smile has so much impact, but most of us never consider it as a way to actually grow our levels of happiness. We assume that we smile when we’re happy, but never that smiling can make us happy!

Now that you know, get to putting it into practice! Smile as often as you can, even when you have to do it consciously – it’s such a simple little thing, but makes a world of difference.