Are You Happy?
Tell Your Face
I have been practicing smiling. Usually in the car. It takes a least 30 minutes to get anywhere from my small town so I spend that time smiling. They say that it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown but if that is true then why does my face hurt if I am laughing or smiling for long periods? I decided it is because those smiling muscles are weak. I forget to tell my face I am happy and do not smile as much. So I have been practicing smiling.
I think the no smiling face is genetic. My mom didn’t smile often. I always credited that to her probably being tired. She raised 7 kids as a single parent. Oh, she was married for most of my childhood, but dad was in the Navy during the Vietnam war. He was gone a lot and as any military spouse testify, my mom was a single parent. For me, having very few vague memories of my dad growing up there wasn’t much change. when they got divorced. I thought he just shipped out again for the longest time.
Anyway back to the smile thing, Mom was not much of a smiling gal. I am quick to laugh and flash a brief smile. I don’t maintain that grin though. My son very much took after my mom. When he was younger, think middle school, I took him to a theme park. There was a roller coaster he very much wanted to ride. It had been advertised on the TV and was the hottest, coolest, bestest roller coaster ride ever. I mean EVER. So off to the land of roller coasters we went.
I hate roller coasters. My first one was the rickety, squeaky. shaking one on the Boardwalk at Santa Cruz. Scary thought it was going to fall apart. My second one had double loops and we got stuck upside. So, not a fan. The son, however, was very excited. He knew I would not go on with him. So he waited in a very long line. Finally, his dream ride happened. I met him at the exit of the ride. He had a poker face. Like no expression whatsoever. I thought he was maybe scared, or it wasn’t the great ride he thought it would be.
“How was it?” I queried.
“It was fun” was his answer with a deadpan expression. ” I want to go again”
“If it was fun maybe you ought to tell your face” I replied
That kind of stuck throughout his childhood. I had to remind him to tell his face that he was happy. The rest of us poor souls had no visual clues about his mood otherwise. He was a very intellectual child and very different from me. My husband once joked that I had had an affair with a Vulcan. While I could keep up with him in intelligence my sociability was higher than his. So “Tell Your Face” became a reminder that the rest of the human race needed a clue.
Obviously, it’s a reminder I forget myself. So practicing smiling is what I am doing. In the car. I have found that it helps. I am more readily smiling for no reason. Just smiling. To smile. Not because something is funny or saying hi but just smiling. I am starting to get that question. “What are smiling about?” The answer? No reason. My face still hurts though.
PS: It is not true it takes more muscles to frown than smile. It takes approximately 10 muscles to smile and as few as 6 to frown. This means my face is just lazy and that is why it hurts to smile right now.