The power of positive affirmations and the impacts of smiling have long been explored in various fields, including psychology and neuroscience. Combining these two aspects—uttering positive affirmations while smiling—seems like a potent way to boost well-being and happiness. But does science back this up? Let’s delve into the existing research on this exciting confluence of positive psychological interventions.
- Smiling can create a positive physiological and emotional state, potentially making the mind more receptive to the positive messages of the affirmations.
- Positive affirmations, in turn, can reinforce the good feelings that come from smiling, creating a feedback loop of positivity.
What are Positive Affirmations?
Positive affirmations are concise, positive statements that are repeated to oneself to challenge and control negative thoughts or self-doubt and manifest positive change.
They can be broad, like “I am worthy of love and happiness,” or specific to a person’s situation, like “I excel in my job.”
Clinical Studies on Positive Affirmations
Several studies have investigated the effects of positive affirmations. For instance:
- Self-Affirmation and Brain Activity: A study published in the journal “Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience” in 2015 indicated that self-affirmation activates well-known reward centres in the brain, including the ventral striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Activation in these areas is associated with other positive events, suggesting that affirming oneself directly affects one’s emotional well-being.
- Affirmations and Health Behaviors: A 2015 article in “Health Psychology” found that individuals practising self-affirmation were more open to health messages and more likely to make healthier choices.
The Science of Smiling
Before we explore the combination of smiling and positive affirmations, let’s first understand the individual components.
The Facial Feedback Hypothesis
The facial feedback hypothesis proposes that facial expressions can influence our emotions. This suggests that smiling can potentially enhance one’s mood. Various studies have explored this phenomenon, with some evidence to suggest that engaging in a smile can indeed elevate a person’s mood (Strack, Martin, & Stepper, 1988).
Smiling and Well-being
Research has shown that smiling can be associated with increased positive emotions and decreased stress-related hormones, as cortisol (Kraft & Pressman, 2012).
The Power of Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations involve repeating positive statements to change negative thought patterns and foster positive behaviours and attitudes.
Positive affirmations can work as a cognitive reappraisal strategy, helping individuals reframe adverse events in a more positive light, thereby reducing emotional distress (Moskowitz, Hult, Bussolari, & Acree, 2009).
Positive affirmations have also been found to enhance performance in various domains by reducing anxiety and fostering a positive outlook towards challenges (Creswell et al., 2013).
The Confluence of Smiling and Positive Affirmations
While specific studies investigating the combined effect of smiling and positive affirmations are scant, we can conjecture the potential benefits based on existing literature. Smiling while repeating positive affirmations could create a synergy that amplifies the benefits of each component.
A Potential Boost in Mood Enhancement
Since smiling and positive affirmations have been associated with mood enhancement, combining them might create an additive or even multiplicative effect on one’s mood. However, this remains to be empirically tested.
A Tool for Stress Management
Similarly, as both interventions have been linked to reduced stress levels, using them together might offer a powerful tool for managing stress and promoting mental well-being.
Though the scientific literature has yet to explicitly explore the combined effects of smiling and positive affirmations, the existing research on each component offers a promising outlook on the potential benefits of this practice.
Further research is needed to empirically evaluate the efficacy of combining these two interventions.
It would be exciting to see future studies exploring this intersection, potentially paving the way for a novel, scientifically-backed method to enhance well-being and happiness.
- Strack, F., Martin, L. L., & Stepper, S. (1988). Inhibiting and facilitating conditions of the human smile: A nonobtrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(5), 768-777.
- Kraft, T. L., & Pressman, S. D. (2012). Grin and bear it: the influence of manipulated facial expression on the stress response. Psychological Science, 23(11), 1372-1378.
- Moskowitz, J. T., Hult, J. R., Bussolari, C., & Acree, M. (2009). What works in coping with HIV? A meta-analysis with implications for coping with serious illness. Psychological Bulletin, 135(1), 121.
- Creswell, J. D., Welch, W. T., Taylor, S. E., Sherman, D. K., Gruenewald, T. L., & Mann, T. (2013). Affirmation interventions and the reduction of threat and stress: Neural evidence. Psychological Science, 24(8), 1557-1566.