Betsy, a forty-two year old engineer, was a good person, a hard worker, but she always looked like she was worried or angry. She had furrowed brows that made her look worried; she had a tight smile that made her look angry. Betsy not only looked anxious and angry, but she also felt that way most of the time. As a result, people avoided her, and she was single and lonely. She wanted to feel happier, but she didn’t know how.

Now, the field of psychology sheds light into the predicament of people like Betsy who have faces that give them a sad and angry look. According to the facial feedback hypothesis, facial movement can influence emotional experience. If you smile a lot, you will feel happier. If you frown, you will feel sadder. Your facial expressions actually release certain brain chemicals that can affect your mood, either positively or negatively. For example, when you smile, endorphins are released; these are the body’s natural painkillers that create feelings of comfort and security. In the case of Betsy, her facial expressions actually created her negative emotional states: sadness, anger, fear.

In one research study, the participants placed a pen in their mouths in one of several ways. One way was to put a pen in what was called the “Lip” position, which would contract the orbicularis oris muscle, resulting in a frown. In the other “Teeth” position, the pen would affect the zygomaticus major (or risorius muscle), resulting in a smile, Afterwards, the subjects were asked to rate the funniness of a cartoon. The Teeth group (which had the smiles) had significantly higher amusement ratings than those in the Lip group (which had the frowns). Thus, smiling made the subjects enjoy the cartoon more; they had a better time than the frowning group.

To test the facial feedback hypothesis out for yourself, try this exercise for a few days: When you’re feeling depressed, go to your bathroom mirror and
smile. Exaggerate your smile, laugh a little, make some funny faces. You will soon discover that whatever you were worried about will diminish, and you will find that your mood is elevated. You just feel better.

Now, there is a new cosmetic approach to feeling better permanently by chemically altering your facial expressions, so positive emotions are created, instead of negative ones.

According to Dr. Jason Diamond, world renowned facial plastic surgeon and star of Dr. 90210, Botox® injected into the upper face can cut down on the appearance of negative emotions, most notably anger, but also fear and sadness:

“Botox® relaxes the corrugator supercilii and the procerus muscles in the face, which are responsible for brow furrowing. This, in turn, creates a more youthful, relaxed, and pleasant look, as well as positively affecting the person’s emotional balance.”

Botox® can also be injected into the depressor anguli oris facial muscle. This will improve the position of the corner of the mouth, resulting in a nice, natural smile that proclaims to the world: “I’m happy.”

Another option, suggests Dr. Diamond, is using fillers like Restylane®, Radiesse®, or Sculptra® to fill in the marionette lines in the face--vertical lines that run downward from the outer corner of your mouth along the outside of your chin. This will reduce the “sad” appearance common in many people, and, in turn, help you feel better and more positive about yourself and your life.

Smile and the whole world smiles with you; frown and you frown alone. This is not just a famous maxim, it is a scientifically validated fact: Now, you can look and feel much better with a few minor touches of a facial plastic
surgeon’s hand. You can finally show the world that you look as good as you feel, and you feel as good as you look.