Smile – April 7 2018

[T]he psychologists… asked a group of people to watch cartoons and then rate how funny they were. Some were asked to hold a pencil between their lips so that they were forced to purse them and mimic a scowl. Others watched the cartoons with the pencil between their teeth, simulating a smile. The results were striking: those who were forced to smile found the cartoons significantly funnier than those compelled to frown.
Mark Williams, PhD and Danny Penman, PhD, 
Mindfulness: an Eight-week Plan for 
Finding Peace in a Frantic World
 
One of the reasons we meditate is in order to raise, or expand, our consciousness. What does it mean to have more consciousness? There are several hallmarks of higher consciousness, one of which is simply the capacity to be more aware, more conscious of our self and of our passage through the world.
 
For example, we may begin to become aware of facial expression–our own and that of those around us.
 
Are you frowning as you read this? Or neutral? Or smiling? If you weren’t smiling, could you smile now? Was it easy to smile? Which feels better–frowning or smiling? Which feels lighter? Which might make your passage through the day easier?
 
When you go out today, look at the faces of others in the world–at work, at the gym, at the coffee shop. Try to watch someone on their own, not interacting with you or with anyone else. See if there is a particular expression that is their ‘default setting.’ Ask yourself what feeling might be behind that expression. Someone may have the face of worry, or of despair, of concern. Or they may have the look of delight, or of contentment, or of peace. Whatever look or expression they may have, ask yourself if you think they’re aware of it.
 
More and more studies are showing us that ’cause and effect’ is actually a two-way street. Worrying may make us scowl, but indeed, scowling may make us worry. Becoming aware of our process can give us the power to change our experience of the world. Putting attention on our mood, our thoughts, and the physical out-picturing of them can lead us to a more fulfilled experience of life. Though we may not always be able to choose to be happy, it is relatively simple to choose to smile. Smiling may indeed make us feel better. Feeling better may allow us to do a better job of whatever task we may have at hand. Doing a better job–as a friend, as an employee, as a spouse–probably will make us feel better about ourselves, and definitely will make our friend, employer or spouse feel better, too. Which probably will make us feel better as well.
 
A circle that feeds itself.
 
Today I will become aware, at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon, of what face I am showing the world, and of how that face makes me feel.

Krishna, Surrounded, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
All original material copyright © 2018 Jeff Kober