The Motivation Behind Smiling: What's in a Smile :)
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The Motivation Behind Smiling: What's in a Smile :)

Most people smile often, even if they are not happy. This is because a smile does not always mean that a person is feeling joy. The motivation behind a smile may be positive, or it could be sinister, or stem from a desire to be proper and polite. We give little thought to smiling, as it is so common. However, there may be more to a simple smile then you imagine.

Smiling is a form of communication most people take for granted. We know that if we see someone smile they are friendly, and possibly happy. If their smile becomes wider, until we can see their teeth it is probable that they are laughing and find something amusing. We know all this, but do not always look deeper into the act of a smile.

Sometimes people smile because they are nervous and fearful. Instead of their mouth assuming a relaxed position, their lips become thin and taunt. This is how you can often tell the difference between a happy, or fear driven smile.

It is thought that humans began smiling in this way when they were afraid as an act of appeasement to who-ever they were confronted with. Thus, if they came across strangers, or an awkward situation, a smile may help soften another person towards them, or at least provide them with a few moments to think about what to do next.

It is also true that sometimes people force a smile. This can happen when they wish to be polite and non-offensive, or when they know they should be friendly but are feeling something different.

At other times a forced smile may be used to deceive someone and manipulate them into feeling safe and secure. The politician or insincere salesperson who smiles at people all day is merely trying to gain followers or customers. Smiling does not mean they genuinely enjoy peoples company or like them personally.

A forced smile may also be part of someone’s job. If you are a waiter or actor the public, and your boss, expects you to smile whether you are really happy or sad.

Now and then, someone may force a smile in order to hide his or her true feelings of sadness. By smiling, they can prevent people knowing that they are vulnerable, and avoid having to have an intimate conversation about their feelings.

Interestingly, some animals have learned to smile after being with humans. Dogs, for example, usually use what we may refer to as a smile to mean something very different in animal communication. When a dog shows its teeth after drawing back its lips when meeting another dog this signals that they are aggressive or fearful.

When dogs are being playful with humans however, they sometimes smile to show they are having fun, just as we do. This is a relatively new form of communication for them, and shows just how adaptable and intelligent they are.

Smiling then, is not always as straightforward as it seems. When people smile they may be happy, fearful, anxious, sad, polite, or simply doing their job, and when dogs smile in a friendly way they are signaling their desire to be friends with humans.

Photo credit   the_moment creative commons

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Comments (2)

A smile has many fronts it seems. I know dogs do smile and have a mind telepathy when they communicate rather than barking.

Ranked #1 in Psychology

I agree with you. When my dog looks at me he definately tells me what he wants. He only resorts to barking if I won't listen!