You might not be aware of the fact that there is a “misery index” and that statisticians can measure it. The latest finding is that misery is higher than it ever was. That means there is less joy, less laughter and less fun being had by the general public. I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons, economics, feeling overwhelmed, and the constant fear messages that we are assaulted with on a daily basis.
We spend a lot of time railing about eating healthy and exercising. The latest debate centers on whether too much sitting will kill you. This comes on the heels of a study that said too much standing will give you orthopedic problems. I wonder what would happen if you smiled too much or had too much fun? I haven’t seen one study on this and maybe that’s why the misery index is climbing.
Very little rhetoric is spent on encouraging the general public to smile, laugh, be silly or just plain enjoy yourself. What’s fascinating is that every one of the aforementioned can influence your health for the better. If you eat your fruits and vegetables and exercise daily, but you’re a miserable wretch, you may live longer, but what’s the point?
If you were to park your car on a busy street and observe people walking by, you would see an inordinate amount of stern faces and clenched jaws, and just plain grumpy looks. These uptight faces, in turn, create uptight bodies, which the brain translates into stress. As children, you had from eighteen to twenty facial expressions. By the time you became an adult, you were down to four. This information comes from a study on facial expressions. We are inculturated to believe that in order to transition into being a “real” adult we have to lose being too expressive. After all you could be thought of as foolish or ridiculous and therefore not be taken seriously.
Researchers now see the face as a body organ of its own. Increasingly, scientists are realizing that facial expressions precede feelings and play a role in generating them. The head of plastic surgery at a local hospital told me that as we age, our faces set more and more into a mask. If this is true, it’s important to keep our facial muscles flexible by laughing. We need to exercise our facial muscles. Kids make silly faces all the time, try it sometime.
A pleasant smile can help you to have a relaxed mental state and a healthy body. It doesn’t mean that you have to keep a goofy grin plastered on your face all day. But it costs nothing to start your day with a smile. You’re liable to get a wonderful reaction—someone just might smile back!.