July 13, 2015

Science Behind A Smile – My First “Take A Smile”

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Last Sunday, I joined Andy to draw lots of smiles, and then we gave them out to everyone in Camden. We met simply to put some extra smiles in someone’s day! ..also, drawing is so much fun!

I love drawing, so the moment i started to draw, I found it almost impossible to stop and therefore I lost track of time. Then I felt very shy when it was time for us to give the drawings out to people on the street. I was concerned that people might have felt uneasy when we approached them.

Some people did walk passed, or didn’t respond to us. When I said “Come on, it’s only a smile” i found to my surprise, many people paused, or came back to take one. There was a beautiful moment when we encountered a couple with two kids. The parents walked passed, but then one child begged them and then ran back to us to take a smile. Then the parents came back to thank us, smiling, and asked for a smile for the other child. The preconception we were trying to sell something, or that they should avoid people they don’t know on the streets had broken down. A tiny smile raised some suggestion of hopes that in London there could be unconditional kindness with no expectation in return. 

I was also curious whether there’s any deeper explanation to why people always seemed happier after interacting with us. I found out that the power of looking at smiley faces has been recently proved by Michael Mosley in a BBC’s documentary. In the documentary, we see Michael Mosley who suffers with chronic insomnia doing mental training daily which was suggested by Professor Elaine Fox( a renowned researcher into the science of optimism). One of the tasks in the training involved spotting one smiley face among 15 other angry faces. According to Professor Elaine Fox, the aim behind this exercise is to train the brain to look for positive images. Doing this regularly, the brain keeps more happy faces in the memory part and also it learns to look for the positivity out of the negativity. I also came across a published Social Neuroscience paper, showing that the same parts of the brain are activated when we look at smiley emoticon “:-)” as when we look at real human face. 

All of these lead me to think, maybe these smiley face drawings can give positive impact just as a human happy face can. And very possibly, seeing these smiling drawings more often can be just like taking regular doses of positivity. And also, it’s for free 🙂

thank you for sharing this joy with me by reading, have a lovely day!

love, Tus Pham

 

  • Very nice idea.

    I think it’s an even better idea if children did that in kindergarten and school and then had to go out and give them to people.
    That might have an even bigger impact, not only on the receiving people, but also on the children.