Pixabay happy

How’s your mood right now? I have a fun experiment for you to try.

  • Find a pen or pencil.
  • Hold it between your teeth, sideways, kind of like a horse’s bit, while you work at your desk, surf the internet, etc.

You may find that your mood improves a little.

Did you notice that the muscles that were activated when you held your mouth the way the pen or pencil demanded are mostly muscles that you use to smile?

I remember this experiment from my psych courses. Our emotions and their visible signs aren’t necessarily one-directional. We know we smile when we feel happy. But did you realize the act of smiling, even if we just trick our brain by activating the muscles for a while, can also make us feel happier? Or at least, as in the study, find comics funnier after we’ve sat like that for a while.

We’ve primed our brain to feel the emotion that goes with the physical sensation it’s experiencing.

If you’re already feeling down, you may not want to try the opposite way of holding your writing implement, with the end between your lips. The weight pulls your lips and face down in the way a frown does. You can guess the result found in the experiment. The “frowners” weren’t so easily amused as their counterparts. They didn’t enjoy themselves as much. It would seem they couldn’t. Because their brain was primed to feel the emotions that went with the muscles that were working.

The brain is an amazing, confusing, intricate thing… and the mind!! Wow.

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