Smiling can both reflect and influence our mood. It can also help deal with the difficult and complex world we live in and reflect a good adjustment to the problems we face including the challenges of rebuilding our lives after divorce. Laughter plays an major role in our society and helps build social support.
Smiling can affect your mood
Studies have shown that we can impact our mood by deliberately smiling. We know smiling occurs spontaneously when we feel happy but it appear that the reverse can be true. This tight connection between smiling and mood can be used to our advantage by battling the negative emotions we can feel after a difficult event such as divorce. Duchenne smiling is the most effective (see below - types of smiles) in affecting our mood.
Smiling is probably the last thing most people feel like doing after a divorce. Yet forcing that smile may be exactly what you need. Smiling and laughing, but not howling have been shown to have a positive impact on mood. Lightening your mood can make you view your difficulties and your situation in a different light and give you the energy to cope and even thrive. Laughing is even more powerful than smiling in lifting mood in most studies.
Humor and end of life care
Studies have shown that humor can occur in hospice care with terminally ill patients and 70% of that humor was initiated by the patients. Divorce is known to be the second most stressful life event after bereavement. Humor should be one of the tools we use to deal with that stress. Looking for the funny and the ridiculous in the divorce process and in the recovery process will help speed your adjustment to your new life.
Laughter is the best medicine
If you have seen the film Patch Adams, you have seen how humor can be incorporated into the therapeutic arena. Today humor has been incorporated into psychological therapy and there is a recognition that humor is a positive adaptation to difficult circumstances.
Laughter can help us adapt to difficult situations such as divorce in two ways.
It distances us psychologically from the negative event
It encourages social support from others
The first reduces the negative impact such an event can have on our lives and the second gives us social support to supplement the coping skills we have. The event such as divorce has less control over our mood and lives.
Why do we smile?
In affect signaling theories, positive affect signals (i.e., smiling, laughing) have evolved to manipulate the sensory systems of receivers to increase social resources. In other words since we are social creatures, we gain positive support by expressing our happy mood through smiling. The smile is considered welcoming and open if genuine and we expect a positive response from someone who is smiling.
Types of smiles
We can read people's faces very well and often do so subconciously. Smiles can appear polite and distant or geniuine and warm. The first type is termed a non- Duchenne smile and the second a Duchenne smile. A Duchenne smile involves both the muscles surrounding the mouth and the eye whereas a non-Duchennne smile involves only the mouth muscles. We connect emotionally with those who show a Duchenne smile much more than those with a polite smile and Duchenne smiles reflect a much more positive mood.
Smile and the whole world smiles with you
It turns out that this saying has a lot of truth to it. Try harnessing the power of humor and laughter to help deal with the difficult situations you are faced with and surround yourself with positive happy people because mood can also be contagious through group laughter.