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Put on a Happy Face

 

By:  Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D.

Fort Fairfield Journal, December 21, 2016

 

      Let me talk about smiles here.  When you smile you feel a happy emotion and the corners of your face turn up.  It happens even to babies.  This is a natural response.  It happens across all cultures.  It's not a learned response or a trained response, you really can't help it.  Have you ever been in a place where you should be solemn, like in church, and somebody tells a joke and you can't help it but to smile?   Perhaps you're in a classroom or during a test and the corners of your face turn up, you just can't help it.  It's that simple, it's spontaneous we don't try to do it. 

   In fact, it's so natural that if somebody tries to fake a smile, can't we instinctively tell?  We're really turned off by those fake smiles because we can tell that they're not right.  The fake smile is usually just your mouth  and a real smile is your mouth, your eyes and several other muscles in your face that makes it genuine.  A whole bunch of things happen and they're so subtle other people just automatically pick up on them when they're not right. 

   There's some interesting research that shows when you either smile for real, or fake a smile  it actually improves your mood.  This is fascinating.  There's a benefit to making even a fake smile.  It may actually be able to cause a happy feeling, physiological changes take place inside of you that make you feel happy.  It's the exact opposite of how most people think of this.  Some people  think the good feeling makes the smile, but scientific research indicates it could also be the smile makes the good feeling.  Could you become a permanently happy person if you smiled all the time?  Research shows the answer in some cases is, "yes."  There are consistent results that show smiling is actually good for you.

   In the 1980s, studies were conducted with volunteers who didn't know it was smile research.  They are asked to pronounce certain vowel sounds that would make their face into the shape of either a smile or a frown.  Other studies used pens held in the mouth the long way and across from cheek to cheek in order to produce the shape of a frown or a smile.  The research showed that when those volunteers had their mouths in the shape of a smile, they actually felt happier than when in the shape of a frown.  Other research had volunteers make a face which would represent fear and when they did, their pulse rate went up as well as body temperature.  So the conclusions were simply having your mouth and face in the shape of a smile would make you feel happier and if a frown was worn, you would feel less happy.

   Now what does this tell us about Reality TV?  Should you be watching the hair-pulling catfights?  No!  You should be watching happy, smiling people on TV.  If you can watch happy smiling people on TV or at a beauty contest, or a comedy show wherever it might be, it will improve your mood.  If you can force yourself to smile, even if you're not feeling it, you will actually cause physiological changes that reflect happiness in your body. 

   I don't mean to imply by this that you can make bad feelings go away by smiling.  For example, you're not going to be able to walk into a funeral, smile and suddenly feel fine.  In fact, you'll probably creep out everybody there.  But if you're alone and feeling blue, think about the look that's on your face.  If it's negative and frowning, try to wipe the look off your face and at least achieve a neutral face if you can.  If you're able to go one step further, go ahead and smile.

   I think this is one of the reasons why if you put on a funny movie, you will usually end up feeling better and happier.  Go find a movie you think is funny.  Put it on, even if you're in a bad mood it will cause you to laugh and laughter exerts an even more powerful physiological influence than smiling alone.  Find a funny movie or clip and allow yourself to release the negative emotions and just smile and laugh.  Even if your mindset about your troubles isn't changing actively, the very fact that your body is responding is going to change your mindset. 

   This is fascinating stuff.  It's actually kind of encouraging and optimistic because it tells you that you have a lot more control over your emotions than you may think.  Maybe you don't need those drugs or anti-depressants to feel better.  Perhaps what might work better is to just slap a smile on your face. 

 

   This editorial was transcribed and adapted for print from a recent Katherine Albrecht radio program, by David Deschesne, with her permission.. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D. is a syndicated radio talk show host on the Genesis Communication Network. Listen to her program live daily, or download her podcast for listening at any time at www.gcnlive.com Katherine’s website is:

www.katherinealbrecht.com


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This editorial was transcribed and adapted for print from a recent Katherine Albrecht radio program, by David Deschesne, with her permission. Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D. is a syndicated radio talk show host on the Genesis Communication Network. Listen to her program live daily, or download her podcast for listening at any time at www.gcnlive.com Katherine’s website is: www.katherinealbrecht.com 

 

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