About ten years ago, my dad listened to motivational talks every morning on his way to work. John Bytheway has always been a family favorite (obviously) but he was telling me about another favorite, given by Anthony (Tony) Robbins. Anthony Robbins suggested that anyone listening to the tape should try smiling, right then, right there, at that moment. He said to smile as big as you possibly could. He said to look to the car next to you, and smile to the person driving by. He said when you don't feel like it, force a smile. My dad, being my dad, I figured was just trying to get me to stop feeling sorry for myself. And me, being me, didn't really pay much attention... mostly because smiling sounded so ridiculous at that moment. But... then I thought of all the times I use to listen to Nat King Coles song, Smile. You know, the 'smile though your heart is aching' one. So, for the sake of my dad, and in respect to Nat King Cole, I have done my research. Like usual, my dad was right. Psychologically, smiling does make you happy. The theory? Facial expressions not only show emotions, but cause them.
Research began in the 70's and 80's, and a lot of psychologists were interested in the subject. There were many different studies underway, but the one that was most interesting to me, was a study conducted by Robert Zajonc. His research began in 1989. Robert Zajonc gathered a group of people, and had each of them repeat particular vowel sounds, that would produce different facial expressions. He used the long "e" sound, and the long "u" sound. A long "e" sound, resulted in the corners of the mouth stretching outward. A long "u" sound, forced somewhat of a pouty, unhappy expression. Lo and behold, the results were unanimous. After the study, the subjects who made the "e" sound, were significantly happier than those who made the "u" sound.
So, this morning, I put my pride aside, and I made myself smile. You could have seen how fake that smile was from a mile away. But, I smiled, as wide as my mouth could go. And you know that feeling, when your alarm is set for 6:00 in the morning, and it goes off, and it's that really annoying beep, beep, beep, beep, beep noise? I would have rather listened to that, for twenty five minutes, than smile, at that exact moment. My mom, walking by my room, looked at me and asked me what I was doing. I looked at her and kept smiling. She came and sat on my bed, and my face didn't budge! You know what happened? In a few minutes, after humbling myself, after feeling like a complete loser, the smile plastered on my face slowly became genuine. And then, I just felt really dumb, so I laughed. But I cannot deny it, when all was said and done, my smile became sincere. So, basically, mad props to Anthony Robbins. You have officially got a believer out of me.