The ability to smile is one of our most fundamental needs. Smiling is a universal gesture and it has an important social benefit – apart from helping you smile, it also helps to break the ice, and lighten your partner’s mood. This is why smiling is so helpful in the workplace.
A smile is mainly formed by flexing the facial muscles on either side of your mouth. Some smiles form an involuntary contraction of these muscles in the side of your mouth, an action called a Zottman smile. Other smiles, such as those which express joy or admiration, involve a simultaneous contraction of many muscles.
A smile can be taught, like any other skill, through trial and error. However, in order to get a truly good smile that shows everyone how you feel, you need a good muscle coordination between your facial muscles. Your nervous system will then communicate with your facial muscles to make a smile that looks happy, real and confident. So if you have just learnt how to smile, you may notice that when you smile, your face becomes more tightly squeezed, your lips and jaw move slightly upwards, or that your smile has a broader spectrum of color.
As well as the involuntary movements of your face, your facial expressions are important in showing other signs and emotions, such as happiness and anger. The expressions are usually associated with your sympathetic nervous system. The smile may convey many other signals, too.
Your smile may be a sign of your level of health, whether it’s a healthy, active smile or a smile that suggests a dental problem. A healthy smile will indicate that your gums are healthy. If you have gum disease, your smile may also indicate the fact that your gums are inflamed. Similarly, a wide-mouthed or teeth-wearied smile indicates that there are problems with the teeth. Similarly, a disheveled smile, which is accompanied by tooth grinding or facial grimacing, indicates that you may have developed some form of anxiety disorder, depression or eating disorder.
In short, the smile can say a lot about you. And if you’ve got a really good one, then others will pick up on a smile like a newspaper headline! A smile isn’t a one-time thing; it’s a life-long expression. Your smile may not mean a lot of outright ‘smile’ (a quick, ‘cheap’ smile), but the expression is more than enough to say ‘hi’ and ‘good morning’. Indeed, having a positive ‘smile’ is one of the best ways to get someone’s attention and, in turn, create a lasting relationship.