7 ways smiling will make you more productive

by | Jul 18, 2013 | Become More Awesome

Takeaway: Smiling boosts your immunity, makes you happier and look younger, helps you deal with stress and focus on the bigger picture, makes others trust you more, and of course, feels great.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 20s.


One thing before you read this – smiles can be divided into two buckets – ‘Duchenne’ smiles, and forced smiles. Duchenne smiles engage the muscles around your eyes and mouth, and are much more effective in producing these results!


Sure, smiling is fun, but did you know it can also make you more productive? Here are 7 scientifically-backed benefits to smiling more!

1Smiling boosts your immunity. Studies have shown that on a biochemical level, smiling releases endorphins. “Endorphins are natural painkillers”, and the “more endorphins your brain releases, the more your body can fight off symptoms of illness.”1


Smiling makes you happier (duh), but there’s also a scientific component to this, because “smiling releases serotonin”. Serotonin acts as a natural anti-depressant, and helps regulate your mood, sleep, and even your learning.2 “[W]orkers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do”, and generally, happier people work harder than unhappy people (and get more done). It makes logical sense that smiling more makes you happier, but it’s good to know that science has got intuition’s back on this one.


On average, smiling makes you look 2 years younger. A recent study at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin “asked 150 men and women to guess the ages of the faces from over 1,000 photographs” and found that “happy faces were voted as the youngest looking”.3 The pictures with smiling faces were voted as two years younger on average.


Smiling helps you deal with stress. Yet another study (yes, I’m a fan of studies) had participants hold chopsticks in their teeth in a way that made them inadvertently smile (they didn’t know they were smiling). After that exercise, the participants completed a stressful exercise that, unbeknownst to the participants, tested their ability to deal with stress. Participants who smiled beforehand (especially those who wore Duchenne smiles), had a lower heart rate and felt less frazzled after the experiment.4

smile25Smiling makes others trust you more. If you deal with a lot of people, a genuine smile has been shown to increase trustworthiness. People who smile are even rated higher in extraversion and generosity!5 One interesting study aimed to measure the exact impact a smile would have on someone’s a person’s willingness to trust you. The study found that a smile increased someone’s willingness to trust by 10%!6


Smiling helps you focus on the bigger picture. If you are looking to step back what you’re doing to see the bigger picture, smiling just might help you out. A study out of the Cognition & Emotion Journal found that participants who wore Duchenne smiles were able to manage their attention better, and were better able to step back from the work they were doing to focus on the bigger picture.7


Smiling feels damn good! Here’s a fun, 5-second experiment if you want to play along at home. First, think of a happy thought that will make you smile. Now, think of an unhappy thought and try to keep wearing that smile. Pretty hard to do! Smiling feels damn good, and it sends a signal to your body that says everything is okay, and that you should be happy.

Watermelon image source.

  1. Source: http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/duchenne-smile-benefits#axzz2YqRPASlz 

  2. Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232248.php 

  3. Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/10/smiling-makes-you-look-two-years-younger_n_1085672.html 

  4. Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323699704578326363601444362.html 

  5. Source: http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(07)00064-5/abstract 

  6. Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167487001000599 

  7. Source: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02699930903384667#.UeAoUxaevU4 

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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