The Simple Habit That Will Make You Happy, Backed by Research

In his book, Peace is Every Step (1), the Buddhist monk, author and peace activist Thích Nhất Hạnh writes:

When I see someone smile, I know immediately that he or she is dwelling in awareness.

This half-smile, how many artists have labored to bring it to the lips of countless statues and paintings?

I am sure the same smile must have been on the faces of the sculptors and painters as they worked.

Can you imagine an angry painter giving birth to such a smile?

Mona Lisa’s smile is light, just a hint of a smile.

Yet even a smile like that is enough to relax all the muscles in our face, to banish all worries and fatigue.

A tiny bud of a smile on our lips nourishes awareness and calms us miraculously. It returns us to the peace we thought we had lost.

The Science of Smiles

smile therapy

We all know that when we feel happy, we tend to smile. But did you know that this works the other way around, too?

Just like Hạnh suggests, a gentle smile seems to have the power to “banish all worries and fatigue.”

When we smile, it causes us to feel happy.

Within the science community, this idea dates all the way back to Charles Darwin. He was one of the first to suggest that physiological changes caused by an emotion had a direct impact ON, rather than being just the consequence OF that emotion (2).

In modern science, this idea is called “The Facial Feedback Hypothesis,” and states that:

“Facial expressions are not only the results of our emotions but are also capable of influencing our emotions. In other words, the act of smiling can itself actually make you feel happier.” (3)

The Benefits of Smiling

According to behavior change expert Mark Stibich, research has shown smiling can (4):

So, you don’t need a “reason” to smile. The smile itself is reason enough.

Smile Therapy

With all these benefits in mind, we should aim to smile more often in our lives.

I suggest we set up our daily smile therapy using exercises like:

These are just some examples, of course. Hopefully, they’ll inspire you to create your own smile therapy exercises.

Let’s get our Mona Lisa on! 🙂

“A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.”

— Tom Wilson (Tweet that)


  1. Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
  2. Wikipedia: Facial Feedback Hypothesis
  3. Boundless: The Facial Feedback Hypothesis
  4. Top 10 Reasons You Should Smile Every Day
  5. Leave Problems at the Office with the “Walk in the Door” Rule

Image courtesy of Joel Lindmark (Society6).