Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tip #31: Smiling

Now, while it is true that we Goths aren't particularly known for being all smiley-smiley all the time, typically we allow ourselves to smile when we are amongst like-minded friends and individuals...other than that we like to be all doom and gloom (except for maybe lolita or lolipops Goths...go figure). Anyhow, this tip isn't so much to tell you to smile more or less, but rather explain the dynamics and the science behind a smile. And you single people out there, pay close attention...this is something to keep in mind when you are out trolling about looking for new people to meet!

Ever wonder why most of the animal kingdom, especially most mammals, including canines, felines, and primates, bare their teeth to show aggression and dominance within a conflicted situation, while we humans show our teeth for the exact opposite reaction? Here's why:

Evolution. Back in the prehistoric ages when early man was basically a smarter primate than the rest, showing one's teeth more than likely was portrayed the same aggressive attributes as other animals. But then something happened throughout the many years of evolution and humans then possessed two very important factors: spoken language and agriculture. This brought humankind from being hunter/gatherers to an actual society. It was at this time when alliances and barter systems needed to be established...interestingly enough it was at this same time that the "smile" became to represent friendliness, courtesy, respect and love...and you'll never guess why!

Two interlocked reasons: When a human animal flexes his or her muscles located at the sides of the mouth, the cheeks raise and forces the eyes to squint slightly and our evolved brain interprets this as contentment, as opposed to someone glaring with their eyes. For example, do you know why the Joker seems so maniacal? It's because he is smiling with his mouth while glaring with his eyes! Secondly, when you add speech to a smile a very interesting thing happens: the person's voice becomes slightly higher in tone and that also is interpreted by the brain to be of a friendly and happy nature, as opposed to a low and commanding tone. The simple smile is so hard-wired into our basic instincts that, outside maybe the handshake, is the one global form of communication that is understood by every single human being regardless of race, country, culture, or sex. It's that powerful...

So again, this isn't really a very romantic tip, but it is something to keep in the back of your mind the next time you interact with someone you've just met...if anything, it makes for a fine bit of conversation fodder or trivia! =)

One last note though: For us Goths, while we relish being all sorrowful and frowny, it is important to reserve smiles for the true occasions where they are called for, unlike those perky people who constantly wear a fake smile at every moment of the day (I'm looking at you T.G.I.F. & Olive Garden waitstaff!). A smile from a Goth should be a rare, beautiful, and fleeting thing only allowed to be enjoyed by very special catching a glimpse of a shooting-star on your death bed! (I had to bring the mood back down, you understand) Make them count!

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