Sunday, July 18, 2010

All it takes is a smile

Did you know that by simply using the same facial muscles that are used when smiling you can improve your mood! Researchers at Cardiff University explain that the brain evaluates mood by monitoring those those muscles. When we smile a feedback loop is created that tells ours brain we are happy. In other words, start smiling - it will make you feel better and it creates a positive connection with other people.

Let's just say that last Tuesday I wasn't making any positive connections with anybody. I was invited to appear on the Live @ 5:30 show on CHCH News. Little did I know that it would turn out to be a debate with Scott Radley of the Hamilton Spectator, about the front page article that appeared in the Toronto Star regarding my research.

I arrived a few moments early, feeling good, looking good (or so I thought). I was introduced to Scott. We were placed on the set, miked, given a few pointers - one of which was "look into the camera when you are talking". Testing: one, two, three. Check. Lights, camera, action. It felt like it went really well. The host, Mark Hebscher, said it was great. Thankfully I did not phone everyone I know to tell them to watch. However, I did gather my family around the TV (and I did call a few people). My daughter's comment summarizes the segment perfectly (she is 18), "Mom you looked really angry".

Instead of looking in the camera when Mark was asking a question (he is in another room and he speaks through an ear piece), I was looking down, concentrating, really hard. And it looks like it. My answers were stone faced and serious, while Scott looked like a poster child for the smile researchers. And I have no excuse. This is not the first time I've done a television spot, but it was the first time I did an interview that involved my research. I think I was trying to appear 'professional'. Unfortunately angry is not professional.

So my new project is involves smiling 90% of the time. Really. It amazes me how often I have to think about putting a smile on my face. Now I drive and wander about, smiling aimlessly. And I do feel happier!

Today I gave a woman some dakbands just for smiling back at me. Hopefully she'll not only pass the dakband on, but the smile as well.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Subway Kindness

This morning I was on the subway, heading once again toward the Toronto General Hospital for a check-up, when I witnessed the cutest act of kindness to date. My sister and I were sitting against the back wall of the train. The train was full. Across the isle, in the seats beside the doors, was a young man really enjoying what looked to be a breakfast burrito. Two elderly women were sitting in the seat perpendicular to his seat, which is to say, their knees were practically touching the edge of his seat. They were trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to give him the privacy required to enjoy his breaky. But they were squeezed in tight and it looked to us like they were inadvertently sharing some of his meal. I forgot to mention that the young man was dressed quite nicely, business casual, as they say. With just a few bites to go he scrunches up the wax paper wrapped around the end of the burrito and savors each mouthful, unaware that all those yummy juices are now dripping out the end onto his lap. Mortified, the two women looked at each other, then discretely at him, then back at each other, then back at him......finally they couldn't stand it anymore. One woman reached into her handbag pulled out a napkin and laid it on his leg. Startled from his breakfast mission, he looked at them. With more than a little reluctance, they pointed to his lap, where now a good deal of the breakfast burrito had made it's mark. He began the mopping up, as they supplied him with an endless number of napkins from those purses.

I was so engrossed in the story that I didn't realize we were at our stop. As I jumped up to get off the train I tried to pull the dakbands off my wrist, but my hands were full with an umbrella, double-long virgin espresso, purse and newspaper. I missed the opportunity to give these two breakfast superheros their dakbands, but I want you all know that someone is always watching. Kindness is always good for the heart.