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How Damaging Is That Fake Smile?

How Damaging is that Fake Smile?

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Selfies, photos, videos, magazines —  our lives are full of others’ facial expressions on a global scale. Science has used these facial expressions as a source of research in fields like lie detection and social cognitive neuroscience. Neuroscientists differentiate two types of smiles; a genuine smile called the Duchenne smile which is characterized by the tiny muscles around the eyes activating into “crows feet” wrinkles, and a fake smile which doesn’t engage those orbital muscles and only uses the muscles at the corners of the mouth. What happens when we mask our emotions, put on a fake smile, and behave in the world with false emotions?

You see a stranger stub her toe and you immediately flinch in sympathy, or you notice a friend wrinkle up his face in disgust while tasting some food and suddenly your own stomach recoils at the thought of eating. This ability to instinctively and immediately understand what other people are experiencing has long baffled neuroscientists, but recent research now suggests a fascinating explanation: brain cells called mirror neurons. ~ Mirror Neurons

Because our mirror neuron network responds before our conscious mind is aware, seeing someone genuinely smile will map onto your internal experience whether you concede that it does or not. Mirror neurons are brain cells that activate in you as though you were performing an action when you witness another person doing that action.  Facial expressions easily trigger our mirror neuron network.  YOUR smile will map onto others in exactly the same way. It’s in our best interest to understand that our false expressions aren’t really fooling anyone. What would happen if we dropped the charade and spent that same energy in cultivating thoughts that brought genuine smiles to our faces?

How many real smiles can you infect others with today?


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