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November 2016

All The Little Things

Several years ago, a friend of mine from England came to visit during Thanksgiving. I went up to meet her in Chicago, and as we drove through the city, you could see that practically every store was closed for the holiday. Of course, they don’t have Thanksgiving in Great Britain, so she was a bit awestruck. “This is amazing, everyone celebrating together on the same day.” Until she said that,

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February 2016

“You’ll find that life is still worthwhile if you just smile”: The Science Behind Your Smile Part 6

Can just smiling make you happy? What if smiling, if even you weren’t happy, could make you feel better?  For psychologists, this is called the “facial feedback” hypothesis [1].  To test whether smiling can make you feel happier, researchers conducted an experiment where the participants were asked to hold a pencil in their mouths while watching a series of positive and negative videos.  The

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January 2016

Does Smiling Create Happiness? – The Science Behind Your Smile Part 5

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”  – Thich Nhat Hanh If an authentic (Duchenne) smile is caused by feeling happiness and joy, can smiling alone create these same good emotions in the brain? Paul Ekman joined with Richard Davidson, one of the world’s experts on the neuroscience of emotions, to study what happens

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January 2016

What Makes Babies Smile: The Science Behind Your Smile Part 3

We love to make babies smile! The smile of a baby is one of the most coveted smiles. We will make ridiculous faces and noises, dance, sing, or stand on our heads to get a baby to smile. And when the baby smiles, we are absolutely sure that it is an true reflection of how likeable we are and how smart that baby is. But what does a baby’s smile really mean? And when do human smiles begin? Infants

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January 2016

The Science Behind Your Smile, Part 2: A Smile is Universal

So when you break it down to its basic elements, what is a smile? In technical terms, a smile is caused by the firing of cranial nerve VII which then activates the zygomaticus major (cheek raising) and orbicularis oculi (eye crinkling) muscles. There are different types of smiles, each representing different points on the emotional and psychological spectrum. We all recognize the authentic smile that

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October 2015

The Science Behind Your Smile, Part 1: Dr Duchenne’s Smile

We can paint it, smooth it, tighten it, or fill it, but without resorting to a paper bag, we cannot hide it. We take our face with us whenever we go and too often it reveals more than we would like. Some can succeed in the World Series of Poker or tense diplomatic discussions, but others of us are an open book. I am an unwilling member of the latter group. My thoughts and feelings are so clear and

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