I often notice the faces of people who seem to make not smiling a practice. It’s as if smiling would take the seriousness out of life. For fun, I sometimes asked myself how I would feel if I scowled. Then I practice my version of that look in a mirror. It actually does make me feel down, unhappy, sad, angry and even disgusted.
Researchers have been looking into this phenomena for decades. Some studies found that facial expressions can affect the way you feel, while others concluded just the opposite. But after University of Tennessee, Knoxville analyzed combined data from 138 studies and 11,000 participants, they concluded that facial expressions do have a small impact on feelings.
PhD student Nicholas Coles said even though they don’t think people can smile their way to happiness, the findings provide a clue about how the mind and body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotion.