How often do you put on a fake smile at work? Hiding inner unhappiness by putting on a game face could just be as mundane as breathing for some, but according to a story from The New York Times, faking a smile could actually worsen a person’s mood.
In a 2011 study published in the Academy of Management Journal, scientists tracked a group of bus drivers for two weeks. Bus drivers often smile whenever a person gets on their bus and this theoretically gave researchers a large data set.
The researchers observed what goes on when the drivers engaged in fake smiling or “surface acting”, and its opposite “deep acting” — which is when you generate a genuine smile by focusing on positive thoughts and memories.
Flashing a false smile to hide unhappiness can further worsen your mood.
On days when the drivers surface-acted, they tended to become depressed and withdrawn from work. However, on days when they deep acted, their moods became more positive and their productivity increased.
Women were affected more than men. Study co-author Dr. Brent Scott, an assistant professor at the Michigan State University, suspects that cultural norms are to blame. He says that women are socialized to be more emotionally expressive, so hiding their emotions may strain them more.
The bottom line? Scientists suggest that flashing a false smile to hide unhappiness can further worsen your mood.
Smile from the heart and your body will thank you! Why not take the time to focus on the positive and be thankful for every single good thing that comes your way?