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Is Being Courteous Bad For You?

Nolan Erickson

Many experts agree that having a positive attitude can help you lead a healthy life. According to a recent study spearheaded by a Michigan State University professor, however, faking a smile can actually be detrimental to your well being. The reasoning is that superficial expressions of happiness that do not reflect one’s inner feelings can cause the subject to dwell on the very negative thoughts he or she is trying to suppress. In contrast, a genuinely positive outlook, stemming from pleasant memories and emotions, leads to improved moods and increased productivity.

The study focused on bus drivers, who are expected to be courteous to hundreds of passengers on a daily basis. The same theory would seem to apply to nearly anyone whose job involves contact with prospective customers: retail sales associates, cashiers, restaurant workers, and more. While this may seem like a minor issue, any insight into coping with or avoiding depression should be carefully considered.

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