Tue, May 30, 2006 - Page 8 News List

It's time for all of us to put on our happy faces

By Chen Chang-po 陳章波

Please stop frowning and read this article with a smile on your face and happiness in your eyes.

In ominous times such as these, individual health, happiness and freedom become our main goals: We don't want to be swept away by the deteriorating atmosphere in society and we want to forget about media sensationalism, insider scandals, corruption and election primaries fraught with controversy.

Modern science has shown that the part of the brain controlling the left arm in monkeys who have had their left hand tied behind their back becomes active when they see another monkey moving its left arm. The same is true for humans: When we see someone smiling, we smile with them; when we witness anger, the part of our brain controlling anger will also be active, and it will be easier for us to fly into a rage.

The linking of the World Cup soccer tournament that everyone is talking about these days with the sex industry follows the same line of reasoning. When we watch a soccer game, the nerve center in our brains controlling our feet is excited even though we aren't actually moving our feet. The nerve center controlling our feet is located close to the nerve center controlling our reproductive organs, and so we start thinking about sex.

All this evidence proves that our appearance and body language affects the mood of other people. We all know that greeting customers with a smile is the most fundamental behavior for someone employed in a service industry. Today's society is far from harmonious, and is filled with violence. We're all walking around with angry expressions on our faces, and it is only natural that we get an angry look back. The easiest way to improve matters and create a harmonious society is for us to smile at each other.

A real smile requires that we stop frowning and that the corners of the mouth and eyes are pulled upward. Only moving the corners of the mouth but not the eyes creates a fake smile. Acer Computer founder Stan Shih (施振榮) only has laugh wrinkles around the corner of his mouth, implying that making a lot of money doesn't necessarily bring happiness and a harmonious society. If we stop frowning and begin to smile with the eyes as well, maybe industry and business will be able to truly give something back to society and bring Taiwan to the next level.

Let's initiate a smile mass movement. A smile before we sing the national anthem, a smiling moment when we're done, another smiling moment for all legislators before they begin each daily session.

Face the future with a smile on your face -- that simple action may be the genesis of the next Taiwanese miracle.

Chen Chang-po is a research fellow in the Biodiversity Center at Academia Sinica.

Translated by Perry Svensson

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