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Do We Have to Feel Good to Smile or Can we Smile to Feel Good?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 02, 2019

Research indicates a surprising discovery about how our face affects our emotions.

I love it when I learn something new that adds a bit of joy to life. In the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, I read of a study done by three men – Paul Ekman, Wallace Friesen and Robert Levenson, on what happens in the body as a result of facial expressions.

Volunteers were “…hooked up to monitors measuring their heart rate and body temperature – the physiological signals of such emotions as anger, sadness, and fear. Half the volunteers were told to try to remember and relive a particularly stressful experience. The other half were simply shown how to create, on their faces, the expressions that corresponded to stressful emotions, such as anger, sadness, and fear. The second group, the people who were acting, showed the same physiological responses, the same heightened heart rate and body temperature, as the first group.” (p. 207)

Another study conducted with smiling, showed the same results. As Caldwell says:

“These findings may be hard to believe, because we take it as a given that first we experience an emotion, and then we may – or may not – express that emotion on our face. We think of the face as the residue of emotion. What this research showed, though, is that the process works in the opposite direction as well. Emotion can also start on the face. The face is not a secondary billboard for our internal feelings. It is an equal partner in the emotional process.” (Blink) p. 208)


I find this to be an amazing bit of information!

We don’t have to feel good to smile – we can smile to feel good!

How often have you scrunched up your face in a frown or with worry, and then wondered how to get out of feeling bad? Now you have a tool to begin to move you out of feeling bad so that you can raise your frequency high enough to do an Inner Bonding process – smile! Try it – it works!

I’m not saying that the feeling of joy that bubbles up from truly loving yourself and connecting with your Guidance is the same feeling you get when you shift your face into a smile. In fact, Ekman states that some muscles are involuntary – they happen automatically when we are genuinely happy or angry or scared. What I’m saying is that deliberately smiling may release stress and open you enough so that you can do your inner work and find your joy again.


Deliberately smiling can be a tool for moving out of your wounded self and into your loving adult.

I love the idea that our face and our thoughts can be partners in the emotional process. I love that even a fake smile can change our physiology enough to do an Inner Bonding process.

You might want to focus on becoming more aware of what you are doing with your face. If you are used to going through the day knitting your eyebrows, pursing your lips or frowning, notice how this is making you feel. Then deliberately relax your face or smile, and notice how you feel.

The challenge here is to not only be aware of your thoughts that create your painful emotions, but also how your face might be creating painful emotions. This is just another example of the fact that we cannot separate mind, body, emotions and spirit – that all aspects of us are interconnected. Our body affects our feelings, our feelings affect our body, our thoughts affect our feelings and our body, and they all affect our frequency and our spiritual connection.



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