Can you tell the difference between a “heartfelt genuine” smile and a “non-enjoyment fake” smile? I bet you can! Human beings come with “exquisite insincerity detectors” states Barbara Fredrickson,Ph.D. in her very popular book, “Positivity.”

Dr. Fredrickson explains a non-enjoyment smile will have upturned lip corners and positive words but that’s where the smile stops. It will be missing sincere, heartfelt energy and will not involve the muscles that circle each of our eyes.  Only a heartfelt smile will engage these muscles lifting the cheeks to create crow’s feet. (Being over 60, these little feet have been walking around the my eyes for decades.) 200px-Lateral_head_anatomy

While fake smiles can look similar to genuine smiles, in fact, they use different muscles in the face which are controlled by different parts of the brain.

Fake smiles are created from the conscious part of the brain and can be performed at will. Fake smiles use the zygomaticus major muscles that pull the corners of the mouth outwards.

Genuine smiles are generated by the unconscious brain and are automatic when a person feels pleasure. The brain processes this emotion causing the mouth muscles to move and the orbicularis oculi plus the pars orbital to contract, making crow’s feet.

Studies show that most people can’t detect a fake smile from a genuine one. Although, I just took a great test from the BBC and found out, I was pretty good at distinguishing the difference.

Try it for yourself by watching people smiling in action,  click here:


Here is a great example of a genuine smile. This guy is smiling with his whole face, body and heart.  A smile that began in his unconscious and spontaneously burst forth. Can’t you feel it?

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