A Surprisingly Simple Way to Boost Your Mood

Use deliberate smiling to release tension in your face, your mind, your body — and in everyone around you.

Patrik Edblad
2 min readJun 9, 2022


Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Thich Nhat Hanh was a Buddhist monk, mindfulness teacher, and peace activist.

He was also a prolific author, and in his writing, he often emphasized the importance of smiling.

Here’s an example from his book Peace is Every Step(1):

Mona Lisa’s smile is light, just a hint of a smile. Yet even a smile like that is enough to relax all the muscles in our face, to banish all worries and fatigue. A tiny bud of a smile on our lips nourishes awareness and calms us miraculously. It returns to us the peace we thought we had lost.

Interestingly, there’s plenty of research that supports this idea. Smiling can indeed influence our emotions in a positive way.

The Science of Smiling

In a clever study conducted in the 80s(2), researchers had their participants hold a pen in their mouths in one of two ways:

  • Group 1 held a pen between their lips, resulting in a frown.
  • Group 2 held a pen between their teeth, resulting in a smile.

They then did a series of tasks before the researchers asked them to rate a cartoon.

It turned out that the “smiling” group found the cartoon significantly funnier than the “frowning” group did.

This supported the researcher’s hypothesis that “people’s facial activity influences their affective responses.”

And subsequent research has provided more support for this idea. For instance, studies have found that smiling can:

  • Relieve stress(3)
  • Boost your mood(4)
  • Strengthen your immune system(5)
  • Reduce pain(6)
  • Make you more attractive(7)
  • Extend your life(8)



Patrik Edblad

I write about timeless ideas and science-backed strategies to feel great and perform at your very best. Get more from me at https://www.patrikedblad.com