The Duchenne Smile
Do you know how to smile with your eyes?
How do you create connection from behind a mask? Social distancing and masked faces can make us feel isolated and awkward. These feelings can prompt us to avoid eye contact, making us feel even more isolated and more awkward. This vicious cycle can be easily broken with a powerful tool: a genuine smile from our eyes.
Happy eyes create connection. Smiling with our eyes (“smizing”) can lift our mood, make us appear more trustworthy (and attractive!), cause others to smile, and help us be more persuasive. It positively influences how people see us and helps us forge connections. Knowing how to smile with our eyes has never been more important as our longing for human contact is at an all-time high.
The Duchenne Smile
The difference between a genuine and fake smile is found in the eyes. A genuine smile—known as the Duchenne smile—is a distinctive expression that signals true enjoyment by engaging both the mouth and the eyes. It involves two facial muscles: the zygomaticus major muscle lifts the corners of our mouth while the orbicularis oculi lifts our cheeks, crinkling the laugh lines around our eyes.
Smiles that don’t reach the eyes are lifeless. Think about all the school photos of your kids saying “CHEESE” without an ounce of real happiness in their eyes. It is the twinkle in the eye that signals joy. Still not convinced? Get in front of a mirror and smile by moving only your mouth. It isn’t a great look.
How do you smile with your eyes? Scientists used to believe it was impossible to fake a Duchenne smile, but we now know otherwise. Here are a few tips to help you smile with your eyes:
- Start by thinking happy thoughts. Picture someone you love, remember a happy event, or think of something funny. Changing the way you think can sometimes be enough to trigger a genuine smile in your eyes.
- Use a mirror. Think those happy thoughts as you look in a mirror. Then, try to smile by lifting the corner of your lips while also raising your cheeks and eyes. You might notice that your laugh lines appear at the outer corner of your eyes, the skin below your eyes bulges, and your eyebrows may move down very slightly. Take note of what muscles you are using when you produce a genuine-looking smile.
- Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the better you will get at smiling with your eyes and the more easily it will come when you need it. The time spent mastering this powerful technique will be well worth it.
Want to test your genuine smile picking skills? Take this smile quiz to see whether you can separate fake smiles from the real deal.