We know from experience that if we are happy, we smile more, and if we are sad we frown more.
But I had no clue that the reverse is true as well – and this was quite a revelation. My wife recently told me about the Facial Feedback Hypothesis. This was a study conducted in Germany, where the researchers found that it was indeed possible to trick the brain into becoming happy. How? Just stick a pen or pencil horizontally between the teeth, such that the mouth mimics a wide smile. That’s it.
The brain is apparently always monitoring external stimuli – i.e. what is happening to muscle tension, posture, heart rate, breathing, facial expressions and so on – in order to judge how one is feeling. It was observed that this simple pencil trick caused subjects to rate cartoons as much funnier than those who held the pen/pencil in between their lips (and not teeth), mimicking a frown.
Can we not use this in our daily lives, especially when we feel dejected about something trivial? Time to come up the curve!