Why smiling WON’T help if you are feeling miserable

Next time you think about cheering somebody up when they are upset, perhaps it might be best to just leave them alone.

Trying to make somebody smile when they are miserable could actually make them feel worse, a study has found.

If you force a friend to grin when they are in a bad mood then their brain starts to associate it with sadness instead of joy.

And next time they smile it could bring back miserable memories instead of lifting the bad mood.

The study suggests that the idea of grinning and bearing it might not be the best solution after all.

It was carried out by Anirban Mukhopadhyay, an associate professor of marketing at Hong Kong University Science and Technology, who said you should wait until your unhappiness lifts before attempting a grin.

He said: ‘Making people who are feeling bad smile could backfire and make them feel worse, because they may interpret smiling as trying to become happy.

‘Smiling frequently would remind them of being not happy’.

The research team carried out three experiments: in the first 108 people completed a survey asking how often they smiled and whether they felt good about themselves.

They also reported how happy they were with their lives in general.

In the second experiment 63 people were shown funny pictures and were asked if they thought they were amusing.

In the third 85 people were asked to list situations when they felt happy and about their overall life satisfaction.

They were also asked to perform facial exercises to put their faces in a smile like position.

The study results showed that if you are faking a smile then it won’t cheer you up and that you are just using it to ‘mask’ your inner sadness.

Professor Mukhopadhyay wrote: ‘Smiling by itself does not increase happiness, or wellbeing.

‘Instead, the belief that one must already be happy when one smiles is what increases happiness, and as a result, wellbeing.’

Professor Mukhopadhyay said that people who are naturally smiley people should carry on grinning – as it will still make them happy.

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