When you see something pleasing, beautiful, or humorous, most people will smile spontaneously. That’s not because you have been taught to respond that way through life experience, either. Babies are actually born with the emotional fabric to smile when feeling pleasurable, as proven by observation of blind infants.
Much is made of the fact that it takes fewer muscles to smile than frown. Technically that’s true, but while smiling can take as little as five pairs of facial muscles it can also take as many as 53 individual ones.
What is there in it for us to smile? Goodwill for one, for others around you, and for the person doing the smiling. Smiling people are perceived as friendly, happy, and welcoming. They are the first ones that a stranger will approach or speak to when seeking directions or assistance. Smiling is also contagious, unless someone has a basic character flaw that prevents them from enjoying life. Because each time a person smiles, the pleasure receptors in the brain release endorphins, which promote a sensation of well-being and contentment.
Young people tend to smile more easily and openly than older people, and of all smilers, more are women than men. In face, studies have shown that American males with high testosterone levels smile the least of all.
Researchers who study smiling are called gelotologists. They are the ones who come up with such discoveries as the fact that humans can instinctively differentiate between smiles that are “felt”, and those that are just a social convention. According to them, the real smile is in the eyes.