Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Smile. It increases your face value.

They say it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, but “they” never agreed on exactly how many muscles were really involved, until recently.  For years, all kinds of numbers were thrown around about how many muscles it took to smile versus how many to frown.  In 1979 the Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations claimed that it took 72 muscles to frown and only 14 to smile.  The New York Times, which I’d like to think is a fairly trustworthy news source, printed an article in 1986 that had basketball coach Sunny Smith claiming it took 15 muscles to smile and 65 to frown but less than a year later quoted someone else as saying it took 100 to frown and only 10 to smile.  It seems as though none of the news agencies have ever been able to put their heads together on this smile/frown thing as a decade later the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel printed a source as saying, “It’s easier to smile, than to frown… a smile uses 17 muscles, a frown 43.”


For years, even scientists couldn’t agree on the exact number of muscles to frown or smile, as they had no real proof.  Dr. David Song, a plastic surgeon and Associate Professor at the University of Chicago Hospitals, seems to be the current expert on the matter and his take is that smiling uses only one more muscle than frowning.  For the most part, doctors now agree that it takes nearly the same amount of work for a face to appear either happy or sad.  If that’s true, why do so many faces look as though they’ve gone to the dark side? [Darth Vader may wear a mask, but trust me – he’s not smilin’ under there.]


Time and experience, not the anatomy of a smile, have taught me that it does, in fact, take a bit more effort to find a reason to smile in life.  When it comes to the sad, the mad and the not-so-glad?  It’s waaay easier to frown.  A frown can (and often does) creep across your forehead with little warning or exertion, giving only those guys mixing vats of onabotulnumtoxinA (Botox) something to smile about.  You can be sitting pretty on a lovely park bench on a perfectly beautiful day, with joyful children playing in the background and people smiling all around you and sadness can come up and smack you on the backside and call you Sally when you least expect it.  No fanfare, no warning and certainly no stinkin’ invitation.  Anger, bitterness, resentment, concern, regret… any of those emotions, big or small, that are accompanied by a frown?  Well, those can come over you in the blink of a squinted eye.


Happiness?  Happiness really does take more effort, because happiness needs to be invited into your heart.  Joy and gratitude can also be easily planted there, if you choose to do so, but know in advance that there is maintenance to be done.  Apparently, a lot of people just aren’t willing to put in the kind of work that will keep a smile on their face – which is too bad, considering it only takes one more muscle to do so.


This past Monday I was at Venice Beach and someone asked me what my favorite type of exercise was (at Muscle Beach work-out routines often come up in conversation).  My answer?  Easy: laughing.  Line up all the physical equipment or activities in the world and, in my opinion, none of them offer the benefits of good ol’ laughing-‘til-it-hurts.  We’ve all heard the phrase “laughter is the best medicine” and I’m happy to report that there is all kinds of scientific proof to back it up.  A study at the University Maryland School of Medicine a few years ago proved that laughter is linked to the healthy function of blood vessels.  Cardiologists involved in the study agreed that laughing “protects the heart.”  Aw, heck.  If you think about it, you knew that, too.


Besides a good happy belly laugh that makes you smile, sometimes your heart can be overwhelmed with joy, to the point of tears.  My son recently came up to me and said, “Mommy, I like when girls happy-cry.  It’s sweet and it makes me smile.”  Autism may prevent my boy from understanding a lot of things, but the heart knows what it knows – a smile, in its many forms, is a gift.


The calendar has finally flipped to June which, overall, is a pretty good month mostly because June doesn’t seem to come with a lot of the stress that other months carry.  June is typically known for graduations, summer vacation, Father’s Day, Flag Dag, weddings, days around the pool and/or barbecue and plenty of other happy occasions on the calendar.  Some I’ve heard of, like World Environment Day, Summer Solstice and National Adopt-a-Cat Month (I went and married a guy named Katz, so people love to tell me that kind of info.) But, who knew June was also Candy Month, Dairy Month, Rose Month and the month in which we are encouraged to celebrate Upsy Daisy Day?   Yup.  Upsy Daisy Day, which according to Merriam-Webster is “June 8th — a day for everyone to get up gloriously, gratefully and gleefully.”


People!  You still have a few days to prepare and train.  Flex that one extra muscle it takes to smile and make every effort (I’m not gonna lie, you have to work for it) to roll out of bed on June 8th… gloriously, gratefully and gleefully.  If you’re not accustomed to it, I’m going to suggest that you warm up slowly these next few days, in short bursts, curling the corners of your mouth upwards as many times as you can.  You may be tired at the end of the day, but you might even sleep better and wake up gloriously, gratefully and gleefully on June 9th, too.  Gee whiz.  Just thinking about it makes me smile.


“An onion can make people cry but there’s never been a vegetable that can make people laugh.” – Will Rogers


“I never hurt an onion, so why does it make me cry?”  — Ralph, the Dog


“Don’t cry for a man who’s left you.  The next one may fall for your smile.” — Mae West

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