Renowned psychologist and emotion-guru Paul Ekman describes how introducing conscious awareness to facial expressions can help one override and control their emotions.
What’s the Big Idea?
As Ekman points out, the face is not simply a display system that tells you what’s happening inside. “I can self-generate any emotion by making movements on my face,” he says. Happiness, it turns out, is one of the most difficult emotions to generate. A smile alone won’t do it. As Ekman points out, only about 10 percent of the population is able to activate the muscles around the eyes that are required for self-generating happiness.
Nonetheless, Ekman argues, the most important takeaway is to recognize and be aware of the role of emotions in your decision-making. “It’s a system that evolved to deal with really important things without your thinking about it,” he says. So it takes true mindfulness to outsmart this system.