oscar winner

The hour of the Oscars is soon upon us, and the entertainment world waits like a teenager at the highschool prom to bask in the Hollywood glow of a night of winning smiles.

Charlie Chaplin, was an Academy Award winning film star from the silent era. He made his first movie in 1914, and in a career that spanned over 65 years he received three Oscars.

He brought laughter to the world as it tore itself apart through World War I, the Great Depression, and the dark years that led up to World War II. His comedy and entertainment brought a smile to the lips of so many when they needed it the most. Not only an actor, director, and producer, Charlie Chaplin was also a songwriter, and he wrote the song Smile for his 1936 film Modern Times.

But what, exactly, is a smile?

A smile is a facial expression formed when we flex the muscles near both ends of the mouth causing the lips to part slightly and the corners of the mouth to turn up. The smile also includes the eyes. We associate a smile with pleasure, happiness, and amusement; it’s the way we feel when we see our best friend coming toward us.

“It takes many more muscles to frown than to smile” has become a widely accepted factoid. It’s based on our general belief that it’s way easier for us to be cheerful than to be grumpy, and that we’re all better off by making ourselves pleasant company for others to be around rather than storming through life as grouches.

Smiling is beneficial for certain, and there’s something to this idea to put aside negative emotions long enough to turn a frown upside down. Because we’re wired to instinctively mirror what we see, facial expressions are contagious. Putting on a happy face does work to benefit society, as smiling people cause others around them to smile.

And even better, while smiling is good for the community of the sad sack, it’s also good for the grinner. Facial expressions not only convey a feeling, they actually contribute to that feeling. If we smile even when we don’t feel like it, our own mood will lift on its own. So we all win.

In studies of test subjects who were required to smile compared to those who weren’t, those instructed to force smiles onto their faces reported feeling happier than the non-grinners. In both cases, although test subjects knew they were acting, their bodies didn’t, and so their bodies responded accordingly. In this case of mind over body, the body won.

Think you’re good at reading a smile? Click here to see if you can spot the difference between real and fake.

Smiling makes us feel happier. So fill up your cyberlocker. The winner is . . . Everyone!

Spacelocker: The Happiest Space on Earth

—Allan Ross
The Spacelocker Fleet