Monday, December 18, 2006


When I catch the eye of babies, grocery store, line at Wendy's, etc., I look at their eyes and make a joyous face. My joyous face may scare adults but babies seem to like it. My version of the joyous face is eyes and mouth widely open and laughing, with a silent exclaimative intake of breath. like a prelude to a nice cackling or Ho, ho, ho. As I come to more resemble the big fat elf, I suppose I am more acceptable as a stranger.

Even if the child has never seen me before, I usually get a smile in return and sometimes laughter. More than one Momma has turned around to see what her kid has suddenly squealed at. They will invariable have already caught the smile themselves.

Humans have social brains, hard wired for kindness, of all things. I suppose that is why we are so happy when the babies are happy, whether they are related to us or not. We want to be happy and we want the people around us to be happy as well. Entire religions are founded on this fact, Budhism for one, and the nicer Christian denominations as well, though many seem to dwell on the gorier aspects depicted by the Old Testament instead of the incredible and lengthy string of kind acts depicted by the tellers of the Jesus story.

Studies of human reactions prove that we want to be kind first and foremost and that it is an aberration to be cruel. Babies tend to cry when they hear recordings of other babies crying but not when they hear a recording of their own cries. Even the lower (supposedly) primates will starve themselves when they realize that taking food caused a shock to be delivered to their cage mate. We don't like to hurt other people and we do like to make them happy, as a rule though this rule can certainly be broken with selfish or vengeful motivation.

I wonder why it is that humans seem more willing to follow a leader who says, "I will protect you" even when the thing you are being protected from is essentially insignificant, as in the "Terror" boogieman, rather than following one who says, "I will make you happy"?...Or, "I will make your children happy!" and even more significant promise.

Interestingly, we now find that our brains never quit recharging themselves and rewiring themselves due to the discovery of neuroplasticity, and that we ourselves have much to say on whether we will rewire for "sad" or "happy"... Whether we will be cruel or kind?

There are now "Laughter Clubs" around the world that do nothing more than meet outside and start laughing. All accounts seem to say that the laughers are inexplicably happier after laughing, even when it is faked.

Well, we should know that while the first smile may be faked, the mirror smile on the face of someone else is not. So try it today...Make someone smile back at you.

Give the gift of a "Joyous face". Give yourself the gift of happiness by giving others the gift of kindness.

"Tis the Season", after all.



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