So when last did you look at yourself properly? I mean really look at yourself – not at whether your bum looks big in that, or whether you've managed to bring your hair back from its pillow-state. I mean, when last did you look at your eyes, your smile, your face in repose, that sort of thing?
It's virtually impossible to look at yourself objectively, the way strangers do, which is why I would recommend you carve out three minutes to read this piece from the Huffington Post (thanks for the tip, Sherry!). You might need a tissue. It's about the beautiful South Africanness of us, and it's a love-letter worth reading every time we get ourselves into a froth of annoyance about all the stuff that's not right.
Anyway, back to your own face – or, rather, the face the world sees.
A fascinating the-chicken-or-the-egg story has emerged about the possible unexpected side-effects of Botox. Botox is a brilliant treatment for all sorts of things (strokes, excessive sweating, muscular spasms), and there have been millions who've been grateful, also, for its cosmetic application. Only those who're happy to live with deep frown lines are entitled to throw stones here. Now, however, it turns out that over-zealous use of Botox – the famous frozen-face look – can dampen your emotional life. A study showed that there is a kind of emotional feedback loop in which our expression influences our emotion, which in turn influences our expression, and so on. So – no expression, no emotion. How interesting!
That takes me to the classic granny injunction to show the world a happy face. "When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you," as Louis Armstrong sung 90 years ago.
And that, in turn, takes us back to how that nice lady from the Huffington Post experienced South Africa. We're the champions of smile.
So, I guess, that's the message for today: it's your civic responsibility, your patriotic duty to put on a smile. And if you're too gloomy in this midwinter to smile with conviction, take yourself off for some laughter treatment. We tried it. It works.
Have a ha-ha-ha-happy day.
(Heather Parker, Health24, July 2010)