I just read a terrific study about the smile muscles in your face communicating positive vibes to your brain. This “facial feedback” hypothesis holds that physically expressing an emotion sends a biochemical signal from the facial muscles that “loops” back to the brain. It’s much the same as sound coming from a speaker (we’re not talking motivational speaker here, folks) that’s picked up by a microphone and sent back through the speaker as amplified feedback.
Here’s how the study went: In 1988, German researchers told participants to hold a pen in their mouths in one of two ways – in the “lips” position, which activated the muscles used in frowning, or in the “teeth” position, which employed the muscles used for smiling. A control group simply held the pen in their hands. Then the three groups were shown a cartoon, and told to evaluate how funny they found it. Members of the “teeth” group reported finding the cartoon significantly more amusing than did those in the “lips” or control groups.
In other words, people who smiled – even though they didn’t realize they were smiling – found the world a jollier place.
Now here’s where an idea hit me. Do you think I could get away with asking my audience to place a pencil, pen, or lipliner pencil in their teeth for the duration of my presentation without telling them why? Or perhaps convincing them that doing so would tighten any loosening skin from the neck up?
Can you imagine the wonderful feedback and evaluations I’d get? “I can’t put my finger on why I thought she was so awesome, inspiring and funny, I just know that’s how I felt!”
Even though this may appear self-serving at first, think about it. If we can get a room full of pessimists to express “smile” in their facial muscles, their brains will actually feel the positive emotion, which is what most people need more of in their lives. Win Win!!!
Of course I’m kidding about asking any of our audiences to really do this but don’t you just love this information? It’s my goal to use this study and somehow weave it into my talks so they can leave with a very valuable life tool.
Please share with yours.
From your motivational speaker, Polly Pitchford, who thinks that the above smiling photo is gorgeous, the above frowning photo is gruesome, and the above middle photo is forgettable. (Lipstick, Polly, lipstick!)