Everyone knows the famous yellow smiley face which has brightened popular culture for years. Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Worcester, Massachusetts created the smiley face in 1963 and went on to create World Smile Day in 1999. He thought that we, all of us, should devote one day each year to smiles and kind acts throughout the world. Well this Friday is World Smile Day and in addition to helping others put a smile on their dial, psychologist and relationship coach Sam Owen has put together a guide with dating site Elite Singles for how we can use smiles to help our own sex lives.
1. You’ll become a much better flirt.
A little smile can go a long way. Research shows that smiling reduces stress and makes us feel happy by initiating physiological changes such as a lowered heart rate and the release of endorphins and serotonin. We can even ‘fake’ these changes; simply smiling tells our brains that we’re happy, even if we’ve been feeling stressed out and nervous!
Our mind builds up associations with different body postures and facial expressions and, therefore, we can recall an emotion simply by mimicking the body language our brain associates with that emotion. By using a smile to feel happier, you will think more clearly, be better able to engage in good conversation and skillfully charm your date. It might not be a long-term solution, but a quick smile here and there will give you the feel-good factor, confidence and low stress levels needed to flirt like a pro.
2. You’ll look hotter than when wearing make-up.
Stressing out about first date make-up? Perhaps it’s time to take the au natural route; one recent survey found that a smiling, natural face is more attractive for 69% of people than someone wearing makeup and not smiling. If you’re not quite confident enough to go that far yet, then perhaps keep your make-up a little subdued and be sure to wear a smile with it. Not only is the natural look very appealing to some men, it also inadvertently communicates your quiet self-confidence (which is an attractive quality) and that you’re honest and upfront (that people will get what they see).
3. You’ll sound sweeter.
When we genuinely smile at someone we can convey a number of things. A smile can suggest that we are welcoming, friendly, open, optimistic and warm hearted, all of which are attractive traits and uplifting because they can affect how they make the other person feel, e.g. welcomed, safe, happier, and so on. Even on the phone we can detect these qualities if the other person is smiling. Furthermore, if we are in-person with someone smiling, our brain is inclined to mimic the smile, thus making us feel happier and more relaxed for that reason, too! If you are going to connect well with someone, making them feel happy and relaxed is incredibly powerful. If you always make people feel relaxed and happy, their brain will come to associate you with those good feelings.
4. You’ll appear more trustworthy.
Ask anyone and they’ll say trust is among the most important qualities in a partner. In studies, smiling people have been rated higher in both extraversion and generosity, and people shown to trust them by as much as 10% more. Luckily, it’s not easy to fake trustworthiness: the most authentic smiles build up gradually, taking ½ a second to cross the face, and engage a specific eye muscle (the bicularis occuli). Such slow smiles are interpreted as more trustworthy, genuine and even flirtatious!
5. You’ll pick up more.
This one’s girls-only. A female’s smile can have the biggest pick-up effect on men, even above flirty eye contact. In one study of bar flirting, women using just eye contact were approached 20% of the time, but this increased to 60% when combined with a smile. Remember, a smile is welcoming and when you smile, their brain instinctively mirrors the expression by making them smile too, thus creating feelings of relaxation and optimism in them. So if you’re out looking for the one, drop that sultry pose and get smiling!