Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Say Cheese! The Science of Smiling

When is the last time you used orbitofrontal cortex in a sentence? I thought so.

We love smiling babies. The first smile gets a note in the baby book as a sign of development. We like to make our kids smile which has prompted millions of moms to chant “turn that frown upside down.” We have been told to smile while on the phone to sound friendlier. Strangers have been known to approach a frowner telling them to smile as if that will pay off their past due light bill. And now science is telling us that they have discovered that the reason we are so enamored by the smile is physical and not just social conditioning. More evidence that this smiling craze is not going away.

Not that I wasn’t convinced before seeing the words orbitofrontal cortex in print, but I am once again reminded to smile. So, let’s help each other become more memorable. I am a frowner. Not because I like to frown but because I have what my dad called the “Prouse pout.” (That would be my mother’s maiden name. There were no negative traits from his side of course.) So anything less than pure joy or a forced tightening of my cheeks leaves me looking like I would rather bite you than talk to you.

How do you remember to smile? What tricks do you have that you can share? Can you fake smile and be convincing? When do you find it the most difficult to smile?

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