Say Cheese! Joy in Life’s Simple Things

Kids posing for the camera

For years scientists have always been interested in studying human emotions: how people react when they’re sad and if an anger management session served effective treatment. In the past two decades, however, happiness has become one of the most studied among human emotions.

Observing how people feel when they’re happy and what they value is rewarding in itself. Measuring happiness is not as hard as many people believe it to be. Many say that it is a subjective experience; in reality, it’s no different than visiting your eye doctor and asking you which lens you prefer, telling you which experience is best.

Even if people may not know or say if they were happy yesterday or the day before, it’s still possible to ask how they are feeling at the moment with a simple “how are you?” On a surface level, a person’s happiness may be revealed in their faces, their smiles.

It Takes More Muscles to Frown Than to Smile

You can tell a lot from a person’s smile. On the surface, it could be a physical manifestation of happiness, underneath, it could be masking anger, fear or a cry for help. Smiling can be a lot more complicated because of our ability to hide what we really feel.

A flight attendant, for instance, may not be as happy seeing passengers board a plane. On the other hand, we smile when we greet our friends and enjoy quality service from your friendly barista. Universally speaking, a smile can also signify safety and security, in addition to feelings of being welcomed and away from danger and walking into friends.

Regardless if you are faking it, a smile can make you feel better, boost your mood, and even help make relationships last longer. There should be no reason for people not to smile, even with someone carrying dentures or wearing clear Invisalign braces.

Braces or not, a smile can reduce the intensity of stress your body is feeling as well as lower blood pressure. If you’re still skeptic and not smiling, a smile (real or not) has also been known to be contagious, so seeing someone else smile may make you feel obliged to do the same.

Another finding that supplements this was that people might mimic facial expressions to help them empathize better with feelings.

Finding a Silver Lining

In relation to a fake smile, people can synthesize happiness quite easily, in other words, finding a silver lining. Experiencing tragedy or trauma is never a good thing, but the aftermath of such events, people end up happier than expected after other tragedies that may occur.

Even with tragic events, people can still bounce back and recover instead of running to a therapist every single time. It’s time to acknowledge that people are more resilient than they think, and they should also realize this when facing hardships.

Enjoying the Simple Things

little curly redheaded boy in a white t-shirt showing thumbs up, ok sign

Ed Diener, a psychologist, explains that the frequency of being happy is a better predictor of happiness compared to the level or intensity of happy or positive experiences. Case in point, a person may be happier when she experiences a lot of it, no matter how insignificant it may seem compared to someone who wants to date a movie star or purchase a yacht.

Happiness comes in small doses: in romantic dinners, wearing nice shoes and catching the last ride home.

Happiness can be likened to losing weight. No one can experience instant weight loss. They’d have to be consistent with diet and exercise to achieve weight loss in small increments. Over time, the results will show.

In the same light, happiness adds up when doing the things you love and acknowledging what you have and what you’re grateful for, so don’t forget to be thankful and smile.