“It is the mind that maketh good or ill, That maketh wretch or happy, rich or poor.”
Michel de Montaigne

“And the face …”

In the previous blog, I wrote about how our facial expressions can change our feelings. We also express our feelings with our faces. Almost too obvious to state, isn’t it?

The part that might not be so obvious is that we have a continuous, two-way feedback loop going on here. If you feel sad your face shows it. Your mind tells your face to express sadness. The gloomy part is that if your face expresses sadness it is telling your mind to be sad.

The jolly part is that if your face expresses happiness it is telling your mind to be happy.

Image courtesy of Takkk via Wikimedia Commons.

Imagine you’re standing on the first floor of a house where one staircase leads up to the sunny second floor and another staircase leads down to the dingy basement. You start either up or down the stairs and remember that you’ve forgotten something. Sometimes when I’ve had that experience I feel an urge to keep going no matter what the direction.

Golly, we’ve stumbled smack into Science. Newton’s First Law of Motion says that a body in motion tends to stay in motion, although he probably wasn’t referring to a “body” as a human being, probably something more like a hockey puck. But enough of that.

If you’re feeling sad, for instance, the dual feedback loop of mind to face and face to mind keeps moving you down the staircase to more sadness. If you’re happy the loop keeps moving you up the staircase to even more happiness.

Of course the concept isn’t foolproof. People who are generally sad have times of happiness, and people who are generally happy have times of sadness. The tendency to either direction, though, is what determines the quality of our lives.

In order to break the tendency to proceed down to the dingy basement of sadness it might be enough to start with a smile. Or is that also too obvious?