The Easiest Way to Be Happier

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!)


Motivational Speaker Polly Pitchford didn’t always know the phytochemical benefits of kale, in fact, those words weren’t even in her vocabulary 30 years ago. Neither did she see any reason to do jumping jacks on a cement surface for an hour. But all it took was a chance vegetarian cooking class and some high-energy music to open her eyes upon a whole new world of healthy living. For 30 years Polly has practiced, studied, taught, educated and lived a healthy lifestyle that makes her such a powerful speaker.

Polly’s down-to-Earth and humorous approach mirrors her own lifelong journey to lasting, positive changes. The audience walks away with tangible plans for improving their health and their lives through food, fitness and fun.
To book Motivational Speaker Polly Pitchford, call 941-685-7725 or visit her at

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  1. I’ve decided to put a pencil in my mouth before walking into my daughter’s bedrooms and seeing piles of clothes on the floor! Love this study, Polly.

  2. I love that study and REALLY love your devious plan to get your audience members to put lip liners in their mouths!!!  I never thought about that!  I know you said you were kidding – but now I’m trying to think of a way to actually DO it!!!  Thanks for the funny reminder!  

  3. Now I know why I liked seeing Carrot Top!  Before he came out on stage, there was a video playing of very funny scenes – the whole audience was laughing before the program even started.  Love it – love the study, and loved your pictures!  I even loved your own comment – ‘lipstick Polly!’

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