Smiling and Happiness - a poem and some research.

Updated: Apr 5, 2021



Smile


Smiling sends synapses flying

even if you're sad, it seems -

so which is real? The face

of sorrow or the chemistry

of a grin? Perhaps the furrowed

brow does the same but

backwards into frowns,

a smile in reverse.

In this game, what is real,

and who are you - the master

or the one who wants?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


This is a poem based on controversial neurological research. Some years ago, a group of scientists did some research on what happens to us neurologically when we smile. Their results claimed that smiling makes us happier - that if we make ourselves smile, the brain releases "feel-good" endorphins. This made many people happy - they started smiling, and felt good. Then the backlash came - other scientists, unhappy with these results, claimed that there was no evidence supporting the happiness findings. They were very happy with these results, and it made them smile every time they thought about their victory over the sloppy, "feel-good" scientists (I made up this part, but imagine it's true....)


My own experiments support the "feel good" hypothesis. When I smile, I do experience happiness. And it's an interesting kind of happiness - it feels like it comes from a quiet part of my mind (or brain), where there just is happiness.


I encourage you to run your own experiment: try smiling simply and naturally, and see what you experience. I'm not talking about a silly grin, but a quiet natural smile that you might break into when you see a good friend or listen to a happy song. And if you find happiness arising apparently without a good reason, are you ok with that?


1. https://www.sclhealth.org/blog/2019/06/the-real-health-benefits-of-smiling-and-laughing/


2. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/can-smiling-really-make-you-happier/


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