Expressions can tell a lot. Some see facial expression as essentially an involuntary readout of what is within. Others, motivated by so-called behavioral ecology, see facial expression is essentially communicative. Of the approximately forty human facial muscles, most are attached only on one side to bones and are used for communication and expression. It takes over 50 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile. What is on your face?
We should be more conscious and aware we become in the ways by which we influence people by what is on our face. We learn as babies and it continues throughout our adult life. I remember how my mother gave us “the look” when she disapproved of our behavior or letting us know if she was in agreement with what we were doing or saying. Observing the facial expressions or tone of voice displayed by another person, often a parent, and using these signs as a cue to decide how to respond to new events, people and objects. Sometimes our faces may say one thing while our voices or actions say another. Social referencing is something we do every day, whether we are aware of it or not. A baby who is not looking at the face of his caregiver is usually the first sign of a developmental disorder.
What is on your face goes beyond just thinking about the general facial expressions that we make, but it also involves the energy that we are sending through our face as well as the intent behind it. Our face is transmitting specific messages all the time through our intentions. Of all the things you wear, the most important of all is the expression on your face. A person can be dressed in the best outfit and have the best surroundings, but still wonder why are they are not creating the response desired from others. Expression on your face makes a difference. You will be amazed that the behavior of people towards you can be very much directed by the expression on your face alone. Your expression is a type of language conveying thoughts, feelings or attitudes.
I recently taught at our marriage enrichment class how not to express the dreaded eye roll in marriage and I got a few giggles out of that one. The eye roll is a form of negative communication without truly expressing how you feel (for all you married people who wish to know.)
Psychologist has found that modulating facial expressions (such as relaxing our face when we are angry or tense) can help us to control our emotions. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has published other research, which showed that the effect of facial expressions on mood is enhanced when we look at ourselves in the mirror.
Another interesting study showed that if you hold a pencil between your teeth (which will cause you to have a smile grimace on your face) you are more likely to find the cartoons that you are watching, funny. By the way, I did this just to see how stupid I looked and it made me laugh.
All this proves that our mood can come from the outside in. It means that by simply changing our facial expression and our posture we can calm down, adjust our attitude or improve our mood almost instantly. Most of us carry stress in our faces. Tensing your jaw, brow or forehead activates the muscles in your neck and shoulders and creates further tension in the whole body. This is why good personal trainers always remind you to relax your face during a workout. A small study published by the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery reported that a cosmetic procedure which paralyzed muscles between the eyebrows and prevented people from frowning was twice as effective in decreasing the symptoms of depression as most anti-depressants. This makes me want to go get Botox even the more. If your expression is frown free when you look in the mirror it does make you feel better.
Your face reflects your approach to life. If your face is relaxed and your posture is straight, you will instantly be perceived by other people as more likeable, friendly and attractive. And it has nothing to do with your level of good looks. The most beautiful face in the world will not be pleasing with pursed down turned lips, tensed jaw and a sour expression. You can learn to change your expression by practicing eyes wide open, direct contact with the eyes and a heartfelt smile.
Whenever we have a bright genuine smile on our face our body is sending a message to our brain, saying, “Life is GOOD!” Guess what happens next? Our brain releases ‘feel good’ hormones, called endorphins into our blood and we start feeling happier and more energized. If you are still unconvinced about the benefits of a smile, listen to this – smiling lifts the face and makes us look younger, friendlier, more confident and more attractive. A smile draws people in, just like frowns and scowls push them away. So make it easy on yourself – no matter what you mood is, relax your face and smile! If you make yourself smile, you will not only change the way people think about you but you will also change the way you feel about yourself.
Just a few days ago in Virginia, in an effort to develop super-secure driver’s licenses and foolproof identification cards, agencies has issued a smile ban, directing customers to adopt a “neutral expression” in their portraits. There is also no smiling in U.S. passport photos either. Even in our society, people know there is much to gain and there is power in what is on your face.
Proverbs 31:25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future.
Job 9:27 [Even] if I say, ‘I will forget my complaining; I will change my expression and smile,’
Psalm 67:1 God be merciful to us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine(smile) on us; Selah.