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Scientists have pinpointed more than 50 types of smiles, and research suggests that the sincerest smile of all is the Duchenne smile–a smile that pushes up into the eyes. The reason it’s more genuine is because the muscles needed to smile with our eyes are involuntary; they only become engaged in an authentic smile, not in a “courtesy” smile. Since you can’t force a genuine smile (after all, that’s what makes them genuine!) this article will suggest some ways you can smile from within.
- Stop being a people pleaser. If you constantly smile in order to be polite and agreeable, you’re tightly controlling your countenance and not giving your Duchenne smile much of a chance to shine through. Plus, if you’re focused on everyone else’s happiness, you’re neglecting your own. A real smile arises from your own personal joy, not someone else’s. People with martyr syndrome will often say that they derive their greatest personal joy from helping others, and sometimes this is true, but other times, it’s an easy way to justify their self-sacrifice and avoid stepping out of their comfort zone. If you’re the kind of person to “forget” about yourself, take the advice in these articles, which will help you break some of the psychological chains that can stifle a genuine smile:
- Be happy. A genuine smile comes from genuine happiness. And studies on what makes people happy reveal that it doesn’t have much to do with material goods or high achievement; it seems to whittle down to your outlook on life. So learn How to Be Optimistic and real smiles will follow. After all, think about who has the most genuine smiles: kids! They never worry, and life is one big game to them. Follow their lead…be laid back and playful!
- Find your “happy place”. This is an exercise that’ll help you recognize what really makes you happy. Look in the mirror and cover everything below your eyes with a handkerchief or similar. Then start thinking or talking out loud about your happiest memories. Smile as you do so. You’ll notice that at some points, your eyes “twinkle” and you get “crows’ feet” wrinkles near your temples. There’s your Duchenne smile! So the closest you’re ever going to get to smiling with your eyes on command is to channel your happiest memories, and let your face do the rest.
- You can also look at old photographs of yourself and note the differences in the way you smile. Candid shots will often yield more “smiley eyes”–especially when you’re laughing, and around people you feel comfortable with. Pictures of you as a child are also more likely to show your most genuine smile.
- Stop being self-conscious about your smile. If you’re preoccupied with the color or direction of your teeth, the prominence of your gums, the smell of your breath…you might subconsciously stifle your smile because you feel embarrassed. There are some things that can be helped (like whitening your teeth and getting rid of bad breath) but ultimately, you need to commit to the belief that all genuine smiles are beautiful smiles, including your own.
- Duchenne smiles and wrinkles go hand-in-hand. And that makes sense in a way, because genuinely happy people are too positive to let a few wrinkles get them down!
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