How to Tell a True Smile From a Fake SmileA true smile of happiness, gladness, or joy shows up different than a fake forced smile. We may show a polite grin or "camera smile" (Say, "Cheese!") at will, but the heartfelt real smile is hard to produce on demand because it requires and is controlled by emotion. Here is what happens in a true smile:
- The corners of the mouth curve upward and outward. The bigger the smile the more the teeth show and may even part with the jaw dropped. A healthy mouth is sexy and a smile says, "I won't hurt you." That is very inviting!
- Also the outer corners of the eyes crinkle into "crow's-feet". These small lines are made by muscles that can not be consciously controlled, therefore a fake smile does not have these lines at the eyes. Technically, this true smile is called a "Duchenne smile" and involves contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle to raise the corners of the mouth and the orbicularis oculi muscle to raise the cheeks and form the "crow's feet" at the eyes' outer edges. A non-Duchenne smile uses only the zygomatic major muscle at the mouth.
- A true smile lasts a short limited time (up to only 5 seconds) then the face changes to more relaxed. A fake smile is done with different muscles and can stay on the face all day long.
- A true smile is symmetrical. The muscles on both sides of the face operate equally in a really true emotional smile. A fake smile is often greatly more evident on only one side of the face.
In the polite or "false" smile, the lip corners stretch sideward with little upward curl and there are no visible "crow's-feet" at the corners of the eyes. Thus, the real smile (with both the mouth and eye areas activated) is a more accurate reflection of mood.
About the Smile Origin as Body Language
The smile face can be traced back to our ancestors, the primates, who still display a wide variety of facial expressions, including the grimace or fear grin and the submissive grin used to show "I am afraid." These expressions evolved into the human smile that now suggests that "I am harmless, friendly and happy to be with you." The smile is used all over the world to indicate pleasure and happiness. Even people who were born blind and have never seen a smile on others display a smile when they are happy and pleased.
A consciously formed smile produced only a weak feeling of happiness in laboratory-controlled experiments, but the opposite was produced by a frown. Even a forced frown produced a feeling of sadness. It is also evident that your smile will bring a smile to those you meet. Therefore, the smile is used to affect how others feel. When someone is sad, we often give them a big smile and tell them, "Don't cry, everything is going to be alright." And to some degree it helps!
A True Smile Says A Lot
A real smile says, "I like you. I am happy to see you." A smile is a very powerful tool for flirting. A woman's smile, with eye contact, is seen by a man as an immediate invitation for much more closeness. That is a signal programmed in to his old brain limbic system and he can't ignore it. Whether he wants to or not, his brain will change his body chemicals to start getting ready for action.
About the Flirting Power of a Smile
When a woman sends a warm and inviting smile to a male stranger she may see a confused look on his face, or at least a strained return smile. That is because he must instantly deal with two messages: one from his body and one from his conscious mind. And the messages are most likely opposite.
His conscious mind has learned to be polite and observe the rules taught in his family and culture about dealing with strangers and especially women. At the same time his body starts revving up for action as the old brain instantly kick-starts it with a flood of hormones.
Lab research reveals that many chemical and physical changes take place in a man's body without him noticing when a woman stranger smiles at him. The same response happens even when he looks at a picture of a woman smiling!
It appears that healthy young men's bodies are designed to go into action when seeing a woman smiling at him. Our smile remains from our ancient ancestors as the most obvious body language cue for indicating we are safe to approach. Additionally, men are DNA programmed from their ancient ancestors to not miss a chance for sex. That is what worked best for men to keep the species from going extinct in those hard times. Another indication of men's readiness for sex is the fact that young healthy men make 200 million to 300 million sperm a day!
In the late 1990s, Safeway, the second largest supermarket chain in the U.S., instructed its store employees to smile and greet customers with direct eye contact. In 1998, 12 female employees filed grievances over the chain's smile-and-eye-contact policy. What the smile with eye contact was bringing to them from male customers were numerous unwanted requests for dates!
The main point here is that a real smile is a powerful tool for enhancing relationships of all types. It is body language that says, "I like you and I am happy to see you." These are words everyone likes to hear. Even if you are not actually speaking those words, your smile will say them for you and that will make the other person especially happy to be with you.
Smiling Can Extend Your Life
Researcher Ernest L. Abel (Wayne State University, Michigan, USA) and colleagues have found that smiling intensity is linked to life longevity.
The researchers analyzed photographs of 230 major league baseball players in the 1952 season. Each player's smiles in numerous photos were categorized for intensity. Then the life length of the 184 players who had already died was correlated with the level of their smile. The true and more genuine smilers tended to live the longest. Seventy percent of them lived to age 80 or more. Only fifty percent of the non-smilers survived to age 80.
How to Give Your Best Smile
The way you produce your smile also sends a message. A too fast smile and quick drop back to normal says you are not very sincere. But to send a message with your smile that you are really very pleased and honored to see a person is possible with the correct timing. Here is how to give an unforgettable smile to a friend.
- Upon first sight look them in the face and scan their face for a couple of seconds while you let your face relax and soften.
- Let your face-scanning end up on their eyes.
- For another couple of seconds think about how precious their friendship is to you. Recognize that if they died you would miss them greatly. But for now feel the gratitude you have for them coming to you this moment.
- Then slowly let a natural and appreciative smile start in the middle of your face and move out to all sides.
- And even if you never did it before, try giving them a hug and let them know you are really glad they are here. (Don't say it but think,"Glad you are here and not dead.")
The main point is to go slow and let your smile grow with sincerity.
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