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Proactive smile

Proactive smile

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Proactive smiling is an intentive tool that can increase wellbeing.

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How to Do It

Proactive smiling involves purposefully smiling, even when it is not your initial instinct to do so. You can do this by:

  • Setting aside time to smile proactively
  • Proactively smiling in situations where you could benefit from it
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  • Increases positive feelings and improves your mood
  • Increases positive feedback from others
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Time Commitment

5-10 minutes per day

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Why it works

  • Research tells us that the more people smile, the more positive they feel, and an increase in positive feelings dramatically enhances your overall well being [1]. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research shows that facial actions can initiate a particular emotion associated with them. When a smile is initiated, a positive emotional response is shown on the fMRI image [2].
  • Proactive smiling may also be able to help alleviate negative feelings during stressful or ostracising situations [3].
  • Emotions displayed on the face can have a real impact on how others perceive you. Research has even shown that people find it hard to distinguish between the neutral emotions of an expressionless face and the negative emotions of a frowning face. A smiling face, however, is viewed as a very distinct emotion. The action of proactively smiling ensures that others recognize you as portraying a positive emotion [4].
  • Engaging in positive social interactions with others may increase oxytocin levels, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving your overall psychological well being [5].
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Suggested Frequency

1 to 5 times per day, or as often as you require a positive boost.

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Side Effects

Smiling too much could cause slight discomfort in your face due to overworked facial muscles.

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Required Equipment


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Gurus/Celebrities/Doing it

Ingrid Fetell Lee - Designer and Writer

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Suggested Time of Day

Any time that you require a mood pick me up, e.g. midday slump

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Studies have shown that those who believe that proactive smiling can cause feelings of happiness experience a more significant positive response from infrequent proactive smiling than they do from frequent smiling. Therefore moderation is best to ensure maximum wellbeing from proactive smiling [6].

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 Happiness  Confidence  Stress
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