The power of your smile

Following on from last weeks look at the potential of global conflict. A listener reminded me of this and asked

‘why don’t we just encourage everybody to smile at each other?’

I love research but when it matches the Ayurvedic theories that I studied in my early training it does make me smile. How is it the the Rishis (scientific researchers) thousands of years ago knew things that we can only now verify with brain scanners. The ancient Ayurvedic science of Mudra explains how the structure of our bodies expresses who we are and the nature of our personality. It also explains the emotional and cognitive relationship between stance, expression and gesture.

Their research explained that when you are in a good frame of mind your brain responds by releasing positive endorphins. This process initiates a neural muscular response that results in you smiling. The muscles in your face around your mouth and eyes respond automatically. Smiling is common to all human beings of all races in every country across the world. Smiling is a universal response.

Smiling also has a social function in that it tells others that we are friendly and not aggressive or that we are going to kill them. As a social signal smiling bonds groups on two levels. The first is cognitive recognition that things are alright and the second is the collective out poring of positive endorphins in the group brain and the corresponding warm emotional feelings that are produced.

Smiling it would seem has been with us throughout evolution as both an expression of inner feeling and as a social signal of group bonding.

The importance here is in the realisation of the synchronicity between brain and face muscles. The relationships is based in that when the brain produces positive hormones the muscles of the face smile. What we now know is that if the muscles of the face force a smile the brain responds by releasing positive endorphins which can make us feel better.
Fake it to make it

Even if you are feeling really down, sad and blue your face looks sad. When you force a smile the nerves and muscles in your face send a message to your brain telling it that things are good. Your brain then begins to responds by initiating the secretion of happy endorphins.

Your brain is unable to tell the difference between whether something is actually happening or if you are only imagining it or, in this case, forcing it.

One physical aspect of a smile, that is so important, are the eyes and the forehead. When someone only smiles with their mouth and not their eyes and forehead it is not a real smile and often feels insincere. For a smile to be real and have the required effect the eyes open wide producing laughter lines in the corners and the fore head crinkles creating lines.

Enter Botox
Consider this relationship between the muscles of the face and the endorphins in the brain. The way it works is as though they are either end of a tube, you can’t have one without the other. Positive brain smiley muscles, smiley muscles positive brain.

Now, what happens if the brain wants to smile but the muscles of the face are damaged or paralysed? The system breaks down. As much as the brain want to create a smile the feedback from the muscles is that the is no smile to be had. When people use Botox they are paralysing their muscles so that there is limited feedback between the muscles and the brain either way. Positive endorphins in the brain cannot create a smile and a responsive smile in the muscles cannot tell the brain that there is something going on to make it worth releasing some positive endorphins.

So now we have Botox induced depression.

As with any addictive type behaviour the problem addiction tends to increase as the effectiveness of the substance diminishes. With Botox the drive is towards creating more positive endorphins, the just person wants to feel good about who they. So perhaps, someone is feeling a bit down about how they look and decide to have some Botox to make them feel better. The drive to feel better is the common emotion behind all addictions.

Because of the muscular paralysis there can be no positive feedback to the brain, the desired effect fails to be achieved. There can be no feedback between the muscles of the face and the brain. In fact it ends up having the reverse effect making the person feel worse not better. They have invested time and money in this procedure to improve the way that they see themselves and their mood.

The standard response in addictive behaviour in such a situation is to try more of the addictive substance because that is what we belief will make us feel better. This is called chasing the dragon in opium dens. The reality is that the more if the addictive substance we use the less is its effect and more we need, or think that we need. This is why all addictions get worse over time. With botox the more that is used the more the problem increases. If the Botox is the very thing that is stopping the positive feedback between muscle and brain we now have what might viewed as Botox induced depression.

For me the self induced disfigurement of Botox, fillers, lifts, piercings and tattoos is a huge sadness. The human form has a natural beauty that emanates the positive feelings and attitudes from deep within us. To mask this natural beauty with what is seen as adornments is so sad and represents yet another way that we use to avoid facing who we are in the drive to make shortcuts to our happiness. But, then as someone who has never been able to get my head around why people need to wear makeup I must own to being out of step with modern social thinking, I have an anachronistic point of view.

Whoever you are and however you choose to present yourself ensure that the end result is increasing your own happiness.

Resource has to be go to the mirror and smile. It will make your feel better.

Take care

Sean X

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