Saturday, May 20, 2023

Smiles... Have You Checked Your Eyes Lately?

Ever noticed people's smiles?  I am sure we all do!  Since we were infants, we learned to watch the faces of our parents and others, looking for acceptance and recognition.  We learned to observe and interpret very young.

That's why I have become interested in people's facial expressions: smiles, frowns, worried furrows, and joy.  So much is expressed to us non-verbally about safety, acceptance, warmth, pain, and love.

What do you see in a friend's face?
(Photo credit: Using Data Science to Tell Which of
These People is Lying
, University of Rochester)

Have you noticed that some people have a perpetual smile on their face whereas other people's expressions shift depending on the situation?  Smiles are wonderful -- don't get me wrong! -- but I've always wondered about people who always smile!  What are they hiding?!

I read something interesting recently, how neuroscience is reviewing the connection between facial expressions and the eyes -- especially when eyes and smiles don't match up.

How have you learned to show that you are happy?
(Photo credit: "Smiling Eyes" Likely Don't Signify
True Happiness After Al
l, Carnegie Mellon)

I wonder if this is the disconnect I feel when I encounter someone who is always smiling: maybe the eyes are telling me a different story than the smile?

And, just like the lessons learned as a child to watch facial expressions to feel approval or acceptance, maybe there are other learned behaviors that we have never considered or discussed... disconnects in what we say and do.

Can you align your facial expression with your thoughts?
(Photo credit:  How to Smile with the Eyes, WikiHow)

While going through youth ministry training years ago, one of our mentors would tell us, "If you are happy, tell your face!"  Integrity -- the ability to align our mind and body, thoughts and feelings, espoused values and actual values.  Sometimes we need others to ask about these disconnects.  Sometimes we need to reveal what is happening behind the smile.

Our challenge this week is awareness:  noticing the disconnects in our lives -- when we smile but don't mean it; when verbals and non-verbals are not aligned; when we have not checked our eyes and smile.  If you are happy, tell your eyes!


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

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