Are you a people watcher? If you’re a writer, you are. I am, and I’ve noticed something disturbing.
At least once a week I leave our quiet rural roads where we all smile and wave to one another, even if we don’t know the person. Then I drive fifty miles into the insaneness of city traffic to shop, keep appointments, or meet friends.
I watch faces of people in their cars, at bus stops, or walking down the sidewalk. Almost no one smiles. What’s that about? Go on, check it out for yourself.
Is this anger stemming from the economy, or preoccupation, or just the complexity of daily living? What’s the root of this pervasive gloom on people’s faces?
That’s why io9, a favorite little website, caught my attention with its post 6 Possible Secrets to Happiness, According to Science on Monday, January 28, 2013.
“According to Science” is what hooked me. This is what I learned.
Evidently, your emotions are controlled by what you choose to wear on your face:
Now this study will help to make you smile: When women were injected with cosmetic botox that inhibited their ability to frown, the recipients reported even though they didn’t feel more attractive they did feel happier. (This study was conducted by psychologists at the University of Wales.)
A twenty year longitudinal investigation at Framingham Heart Study found that happiness is “like an emotional contagion”. Sadness doesn’t have this power. Remember that old saying: “When you smile the whole world smiles with you, when you cry, you cry alone.” So, should everyone get botox?
i09’s six happy secrets simplified:
1 Be with happy people, 2 Master something, 3 Be true to who you are, 4 Smile, 5 Get therapy if you need it, 6 Don’t try so hard to be happy. Number 6 means enjoy the moment, enjoy the people, savor the processes, but remember to put your smile out there.
Sometimes choices you make, make you unhappy, but then if you don’t get what you want, you may be even happier:
Well, when you’ve shopped around looking for the best buy before you purchased something did you suffer buyer’s remorse afterwards? Maybe you thought the one you didn’t pick was a better deal after all. But on the happy side, Dr. Dan Gilbert found no significant difference between happy factors in someone who’d won almost a half a million dollars and someone who became a paraplegic.
Most of us believe we’ll be sad if we don’t get what we want. According to Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert in this TED talk this just isn’t true. He explains about the “psychological immune system” we revert to when we don’t experience natural happiness. His studies show that our own created synthetic happiness, regardless of what you and I think, is not an inferior happiness.
Take a few minutes and watch the TED talk, then for fun take Oprah’s quick happiness quiz.
For all of you writers, does Dr. Gilbert’s talk give you inspiration drop your unfortunate characters into the depths of despair, and then drag them screaming and kicking into their new world of synthetic happiness?
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