Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella

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2016-01-03 – Scientists say that smiling can make you happy. There’s apparently neural mechanisms that feed back from your facial expressions.  Normally, you smile according to your mood so the emotion and the expression match. But if you deliberately alter your facial expression, you feelings will shift to maintain the match.

If you don’t believe the scientists, believe song lyricists. It’s pretty amazing, if you go looking for stuff like this. A five-minute Google search turned up the following:

  • Smile (Nat King Cole) (video) (lyrics)
  • Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella (Perry Como) (video) (lyrics)
  • I Whistle a Happy Tune (Deborah Kerr – from The King and I) (video) (lyrics) – the effect of whistling
  • You’ll Never Walk Along (Barbra Streisand – from Carousel) (video) (lyrics) – the effect of holding your chin up

We don’t sing songs about smiling these days. These songs are all from mid-20th century America.

We apparently do smile more now than we did in the old days, however. Here’s a website that shows how yearbook photos have evolved since  1900—from flat expressions before World War I to full-out smiles today. Here’s another, trying to explain the lack of smiling in old photos.

But my question is this: If we’re smiling more these days, is it because we’re happier—or are we just trying to fake it?

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