Most people smile when they are happy.
That's a fact. They are triggered by the serotonin in their brain, and it comes out in a grin from cheek to cheek. What if there were other triggers besides the release of serotonin? I'm here to tell you that there are.
There truly is a science behind the contagious wave of smiling.
People unconsciously have these facial expressions when their body is triggered by "feel good chemicals," according to scientists. They use a bunch of complex words to describe the process but, in simple terms, when you smile, your brain releases the neurotransmitters and serotonin. This decreases stress levels, relaxes your body, and serves as a mood lifter. It's also what scientists call contagious. Now this isn't the common cold or flu-like contagious.
This is something positive that is passed around.
People view each other as sincere and relaxed when they see others smiling. When a person sees another person smiling, it actually triggers their frontal cortex which processes emotion. They are able to absorb this good feeling. I've add my own experience with this good feeling when I was walking down the street in New York city back before COVID was a thing. I walked past a group of young people all laughing and joking. I couldn't help but smile and look back because that good feeling that they gave off got to me.
Our brain picks up the joy of others around us.
I have been a babysitter for a few years now, and I recently took on a family that had a young baby. This baby turned 8 months old this past month, and all he does is smile and giggle. He loves it when you hold him and bounce up and down and can't help but throw his head back. I can arrive there in the worst mood and as long as I see his smile, I leave feeling less stressed and more happy. On average, they smile about 400 times a day. That's about 100 times the amount that a teenager or adult smiles everyday. When a baby or child smiles at you, you always smile or even wave back at them. Another example would be if you haven't seen a friend in a while, when you do see them, your neuronal signals travel from the cortex of your brain to the brain stem.
When most people don't realize they are smiling and someone else tells them that they were, it can be embarrassing. Our face unconsciously makes these expressions when people smile back at us. It's like laughing at jokes that are funny or changing your voice an octave when you're talking to a puppy.
Our brain picks up on this new situation and our face simply follows.