Yes, I know it is the day after April Fool’s Day. However, I read some fun, interesting facts about the origin of April Fools Day which included a little of the science of smiles. Thought you might enjoy this, too.
April Fool’s Day started with a glitch in the calendar. Specifically, more than 500 years ago, when the Gregorian calendar shifted to the Julian calendar, there were some folks (those people who apparently did not get any social media updates) who were unaware of the shift in New Year’s dates from April 1 to January 1. So, these unsuspecting souls became the brunt of April Fool’s day pranks and jokes, always at their expense.
One of the most memorable pranks was the BBC broadcasting a “fake news” story about Italian farmers harvesting spaghetti crops, which motivated hundreds of listeners to call the station to inquire where to purchase the harvested spaghetti crops or to observe the harvest in person.
Here’s a little about the science of smiles. Did you know that there are 43 muscles in your face, accounting for 7% of the muscles in your entire body? These muscles enable you to make more than a thousand facial expressions. Even though everyone’s face is unique, there are only five universally recognized expressions, the ones for anger, sadness, disgust, surprise, and joy.
Smiles Can Be Sources of Joy
Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Smiling when you aren’t really happy could actually change your mood. Psychologists call this the facial feedback hypothesis.
What happens when we see other people smile? You’ve probably heard the expression that laughter is contagious. Well, because of mirror neurons, smiling is contagious too. These mirror neurons play a central role in imitation. They’re activated both when we perform an action and when we see someone else perform the same action. Mirror neurons are also important in empathy and recognizing emotions in other people.
So folks, it seems we are wired to feel good when we smile and when we share smiles and laughter with others. Laugh away not just on April Fool’s Day but every day. After all, laughter is the best medicine for health and vitality. (Based on an article in Positive Psychology News Daily by Lisa Buksbaum)
Comments are welcomed.