A smile that lifts the cheeks and crinkles the eyes is thought by many to be truly genuine. But new research at Carnegie Mellon University casts doubt on whether this joyful facial expression necessarily tells others how a person really feels inside.
In fact, these “smiling eye” smiles, called Duchenne smiles, seem to be related to smile intensity, rather than acting as an indicator of whether a person is happy or not, said Jeffrey Girard, a former post-doctoral researcher at CMU’s Language Technologies Institute.
“I do think it’s possible that we might be able detect how strongly somebody feels positive emotions based on their smile,” said Girard, who joined the psychology faculty at the University of Kansas this past fall. “But it’s going to be a bit more complicated than just asking, ‘Did their eyes move?'”
Whether it’s possible to gauge a person’s emotions based on their behavior is a topic of some debate within the disciplines of psychology and computer science, particularly as researchers develop automated systems for monitoring facial movements, gestures, voice inflections and word choice.
Duchenne smiles might not be as popularly known as Mona Lisa smiles or Bette Davis eyes, but there is a camp within psychology that believes they are a useful rule of thumb for gauging happiness. But another camp is skeptical. Girard, who studies facial behavior and worked with CMU’s Louis-Phillippe Morency to develop a multimodal approach for monitoring behavior, said that some research seems to support the Duchenne smile hypothesis, while other studies demonstrate how it fails.
So Girard and Morency, along with Jeffrey Cohn of the University of Pittsburgh and Lijun Yin of Binghamton University, set out to better understand the phenomenon. They enlisted 136 volunteers who agreed to have their facial expressions recorded as they completed lab tasks designed to make them feel amusement, embarrassment, fear or physical pain. After each task, the volunteers rated how strongly they felt various emotions.
Finally, the team made videos of the smiles occurring during these tasks and showed them to new participants (i.e., judges), who tried to guess how much positive emotion the volunteers felt while smiling.
A report on their findings has been published online by the journal Affective Science.
Unlike most previous studies of Duchenne smiles, this work sought spontaneous expressions, rather than posed smiles, and the researchers recorded videos of the facial expressions from beginning to end rather than taking still photos. They also took painstaking measurements of smile intensity and other facial behaviors.
Although Duchenne smiles made up 90% of those that occurred when positive emotion was reported, they also made up 80% of the smiles that occurred when no positive emotion was reported. Concluding that a Duchenne smile must mean positive emotion would thus often be a mistake. On the other hand, the human judges found smiling eyes compelling and tended to guess that volunteers showing Duchenne smiles felt more positive emotion.
“It is really important to look at how people actually move their faces in addition to how people rate images and videos of faces, because sometimes our intuitions are wrong,” Girard said.
“These results emphasize the need to model the subtleties of human emotions and facial expressions,” said Morency, associate professor in the LTI and director of the MultiComp Lab. “We need to go beyond prototypical expression and take into account the context in which the expression happened.”
It’s possible, for instance, for someone to display the same behavior at a wedding as at a funeral, yet the person’s emotions would be very different.
Automated methods for monitoring facial expression make it possible to examine behavior in much finer detail. Just two facial muscles are involved in Duchenne smiles, but new systems make it possible to look at 30 different muscle movements simultaneously.
Multimodal systems such as the ones being developed in Morency’s lab hold the promise of giving physicians a new tool for assessing mental disorders, and for monitoring and quantifying the results of psychological therapy over time.
“Could we ever have an algorithm or a computer that is as good as humans at gauging emotions? I think so,” Girard said. “I don’t think people have any extrasensory stuff that a computer couldn’t be given somewhere down the road. We’re just not there yet. It’s also important to remember that humans aren’t always so good at this either!”
The National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health supported this research.
P andemic or not, travel can function as a powerful source of happiness for some. According to a recent study published in Tourism Analysis , frequent travelers report being 7 percent happier on average than those who don't travel at all. But what does that mean for globetrotters who have found themselves grounded this past year due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic? Well, while exotic vacations or even a weekend getaway might be out of reach, those suffering from cabin fever do have a powerful — and safe — way to improve their mood while still satisfying travel urges: Start planning a trip anyway.
“The mother idea of getting away can bring a sense of immediate happiness,” says Carla Marie Manly , PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear . “In essence, the simple act of imagining a future positive event can induce a sense of joy and well-being.”
Particularly during the pandemic, when isolation and monotony can add to already high levels of stress and anxiety, having upcoming travel adventures to look forward to can be meaningful for mental-health gains and general well-being. So by planning a trip, you’re planting a seed of excitement in your mind for future-tense happiness. This vacation anticipation, experts say, can be effective in boosting happiness — perhaps even competing with effects of actually being able to take a real trip.
How to savor the feel-good effects of vacation anticipation
AT 2010 study of 1, 425 Dutch adults published in Applied Research in Quality of Life found that those going on a vacation experienced their highest level of happiness in the weeks and months before a trip. Upon returning from their travels, happiness levels dropped back down to about the same place as those who took no trip at all. The takeaway? It’s the vacation anticipation that’s what effectively stokes excitement and, by proxy, happiness.
“When you plan your next vacation, it can create positive emotions and expectations. If you have a vacation next week, this week you’ll probably be feeling better. ” —Chun-Chu Chen, PhD
“When you plan your next vacation, it can create positive emotions and expectations,” says Chun-Chu Chen, PhD , assistant professor at the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University, Vancouver, who authored the study which found frequent travelers to have a 7 percent higher level of life satisfaction than non-travelers. “If you have a vacation next week, this week you’ll probably be feeling better.”
Excitement and anticipation aside, Dr. Chen's research found that those respondents who talked about their vacations with friends and family while planning them — even trips that were months away — were more likely to actually take the trip ( travel restrictions permitting ). And getting others in our lives involved in our travel plans not only helps us to more fully imagine and anticipate the trip, but also provides what Dr. Chen calls the “social benefit” of travel, or strengthening connections with others through an outing.
Building travel anticipation with no trip planned
It's also possible to experience the sensation of vacation anticipation — and savor it — without actually planning any travel at all. According to Stephanie Harrison , founder and CEO of The New Happy , which uses behavioral research to help organizations create positive change in their employees, the very feeling of anticipation can deepen and extend positive feelings linked to happiness, self-esteem, and optimism. “Anticipatory savoring is a form of time-travel: projecting yourself into the future to imagine what a positive experience, like a trip, will be like, which then increases your positive emotions in the present moment,” says Harrison.
To practice anticipatory savoring, even when you can't actually travel, Harrison recommends making a list of the benefits you glean from travel, such as the joy of a new experience, the curiosity of experiencing a shift in daily life and exploring a new culture, or the sense of possibility that it opens up in your life. “Then, ask yourself: Is there another way for me to satisfy these base-level desires — for joy, curiosity, possibility — in my life, even if I can’t travel?” she says.
For example, one way to enjoy the emotional benefits of traveling without getting on a plane is to fully disconnect from work for a day or two. In Dr. Chen's years of study into how travel impact a person's life satisfaction, one of the key benefits he's found is the detachment that a vacation provides individuals from their everyday responsibilities. (It's also a reminder that fully unplugging during time off from work is necessary to reap the mental benefits, no matter if you're traveling or not.)
“Travel helps you to really forget about your daily routine, your work or job,” says Dr. Chen. “It's like how you're more likely to enjoy a movie when you see it in a movie theater instead of watching on Netflix at home where there are so many distractions, and you might not even finish it.”
While you may more naturally disconnect from work responsibilities when you're, say, relaxing on a Caribbean beach or strolling through shops in different city or country, you can enjoy some of the positive effects of vacation anticipation by just planning a personal day (or days) to focus on relaxing, silencing all email and phone alerts . If conditions are safe, you might also consider experiences that create the feeling of being in a new place, even if you're still close to home, whether through a staycation or a short road trip .
And while anticipating a future trip may help boost your emotions in the moment, Harrison recommends using that energy to savor other daily experiences, as well — especially in the midst of the pandemic. “Practicing noticing and lingering in the good, positive moments of your life — like a beautiful sunset, a nice meal, a relaxing evening with your family — will also boost your well-being in the moment,” she says.
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Those who have spotted him can’t wait for him to zoom by again.
Los Angeles’ masked Mandalorian, like the Star Wars character, is on a mission of sorts. But this “man child,” as he calls himself, is armed with his sense of humor.
On his skateboard, he travels at the speed of traffic through LA streets.
“I’ll just ride behind traffic with everybody. Police officers think it’s hysterical…I’ve been pulled over once…he’s like, ‘Why do you think you can just go through a red light?’ And I went space pirate. Nothing you can do but laugh.”
Unlike other Mandalorians, this one, who hails from Toluca Lake, is revealing his face. Tim Brehmer is a stand-up comedian who realized he no longer needs a stage.
“This whole thing got started because I’m a big box of stupid and I love making people laugh, and when quarantine hit, they were talking about 2022, that we wouldn’t be able to perform again,” said Brehmer. “And a friend of mine was like, ‘dude, the world is your stage, go act on it!'”
Brehmer’s appeal is picking up steam.
“You wouldn’t believe, like, with girls, it’s, ‘Look it’s Baby Yoda, oh my god! Baby Yoda!’ With guys, it’s like, ‘Boba Fett!’ And kids are like, ‘It’s Mandalorian!'”
But for this out-of-work comedian, this act is for himself just as much as his audience.
“There’s no greater feeling in the world, and with some people with depression, a pill can help, with some people therapy can help, with me, this is my therapy,” said Brehmer.
And when Brehmer realized he is also helping spread happiness, as the Mandalorians would say, this is the way.
“As long as they’re smiling as I zoom by, that’s all I care about and that’s the only medicine I really need.”
Siannise Fudge has admitted she was “happier” before finding fame on Love Island.
The 26-year-old appeared on the winter edition of the hit dating show last January, where she found love with boyfriend Luke Trotman.
Taking to her Instagram Stories, the reality star addressed assumptions people had about her, with one follower writing: “You miss your old life before all the fame from Love Island.”
The former beauty consultant replied: “True. I was very content and happy in my life before Love Island and I feel like mentally I’m not as happy.”
Hinting that she regretted her decision to go on the show, she added: “If I could turn back the clock I think I would have made a different decision.
“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful! Mental health and happiness comes first for me always.”
Another follower pointed out that if it wasn’t for the show, she wouldn’t have met her beau Luke.
Siannise responded: “Everyone is saying this. He was the only great thing to come out of it for me… If I could’ve met him another way I would have.”
The news comes after Siannise threw shade at fellow Love Islanders who had been “partying in Dubai”.
Ignoring the government’s advice against travel, a host of reality stars have jetted to the UAE in recent weeks, sparking serious backlash online.
Taking to her Instagram Story on Saturday, Siannise re-posted a tweet praising former Love Island star Dr. Alex George for working on the frontline during the pandemic, while others selfishly travelled abroad.
The tweet reads: “Whilst almost every other Love Island influencer is partying in Dubai, let’s take a moment to appreciate Dr Alex, who is still working on the frontlines in hospital for the NHS. This is how to be an influencer.”
“Raspberry pink with mango-tree-green ruffle” and “Pompeii red with sandy-yellow piping” are but a hint of the riot of colour in the cushion-cover repertoire of In Casa by Paboy. It’s a fitting burst of joy for a company that goes against the grain, and which was launched during the first Covid-19 lockdown in spring 2020 by a tailor-trained asylum seeker.
The cushions (€80-95) are hand-sewn by Gambian founder Paboy Bojang, and made to order in cotton sourced from local suppliers in Naples, where he is now based. On his Instagram page, Bojang welcomes colour suggestions, feedback on new designs and often reposts images of the cushions in their new homes round the world, where they turn sofas and chairs into pockets of vibrancy. He publicly thanks individuals whose colour recommendations make it into the permanent collection – the latest is a gorgeous Yves Klein blue and navy-blue combination – and the only thing followers are called out for is their loyalty. If happiness could be sewn and stitched with ruffles, it would be an In Casa by Paboy cushion.
It’s an interesting exercise to reconcile the very real cheer of the brand with the difficulties that led to its inception: having sought asylum in Italy for several years, Bojang launched In Casa by Paboy after issues with legal papers left him unemployed. “I want to focus on being creative,” he says. “But although I’ve got all the documentation… it’s really hard. I have to go to so many places, it makes it difficult to create something for myself.”
Bojang, 28, currently has a humanitarian protection permit and the right to stay in Italy. His status is hard-won: he took flight from the dictatorship in Gambia in 2013, spent two years attempting to cross the desert and the Mediterranean Sea, and then time in refugee camps and a year sleeping rough in Tripoli. The offer of somewhere to stay from a volunteer at the Naples refugee camp, the discovery of a dormant Singer machine and some vintage fabrics forgotten under a bed led to his newfound business.
He has since formed strong relationships with local shopkeepers who initially gave him offcuts and from whom he now buys fabric rolls, fringes, his signature red zips and pom-poms. “It was just a small thing,” he says humbly, “then I became friends with the neighbourhood and we took it from there.”
Next are plans for an expansion of the range. “It’s quite intense at the moment, but in the future, I want bedding, tablecloths, cushions for everything,” he says, pausing for a second before adding, “and duvet covers!” He also hopes to employ other migrants living in Naples. “I want to employ as many of my fellow immigrants as I can,” he says.
But for now, he is pleased that his designs are having a positive impact. “It’s good to bring people joy at such a difficult time”, he concludes. “When I send [the cushions] to everyone, they’re so happy. It makes me happy to give other people joy.”
A Khao Maikaew woman proved to herself that money cannot buy happiness, never looking back after quitting her well-paid engineering job to farm vegetables full-time.
Patcharee Pungon, 27, said her life got so much better after starting Patch Garden, a small organic vegetable farm located outside her Malia Café, opposite Wat Khao Maikaew Community School. While she earned 50,000 baht a month as a production engineer, her days were long and filled with stressful meetings.
Now she spends her time doing what she loves, gardening and running her own business that is doing so well she plans to expand.
Patcharee is a mechanical engineer by training, not a farmer. She learned how to cultivate vegetables by watching YouTube videos and trying her green thumb on six garden plots. Patcharee found that not only was she good at gardening, she really enjoyed it.
She invested 100,000 baht into her new venture, focusing on growing salad vegetables, such as green oak, red oak, cos lettuce and butterhead.
Her farm uses only natural compost and bio-fermented water with no chemicals or insecticides.
Once her crops are ripe, she contacts health-food restaurants nearby and also sells from her Patch Garden Facebook page. Vegetables are picked by 8 a.m. and delivered that day. Any orders placed after 8 a.m. are delivered the next day.
Patcharee guarantees her produce is free of chemicals, saying she has a Good Agricultural Practices certification that allows them to be sold at retail stores as organic.
While the new coronavirus outbreak has impacted her, Patcharee said the effects have been minimal. Cafés are ordering fewer products, as they have fewer customers, but people still want organic vegetables, so sales from her page have offset the business-to-business losses.
In fact, business has been so good, she plans to expand beyond the original six plots to more vacant land she has nearby.
For more information on Patch’s Garden and Malila Café call 080-835-2536.
The happiness we feel about our money, work, relationships and life in general isn’t derived by only what happens, but also how we perceive what happens.
A famous saying often attributed (rightly or wrongly) to Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius goes like this: “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
What he seems to be articulating is a cognitive bias named more than 1,500 years later as the “framing effect.”
The framing effect is the psychological principle that our decisions are influenced by how choices are positively or negatively presented. It is related to the groundbreaking research of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman known as prospect theory, which states the pain of a loss is twice as powerful as the pleasure of a gain. What that means is that when given the choice, people prefer a sure gain over a probable one, and they prefer a probable loss over a definite loss.
When presented with a positive frame, people tend to avoid risks. But when presented with a negative frame, people tend to seek risks. As a simplification of one role-playing experiment involving a life-or-death scenario shows, people will avoid letting 10 out of 100 lives perish but will take the opportunity to save 90 out of 100 lives, even though each option results in the same outcome.
A Key Route to Positive Thinking: Framing
You can see the concept of framing at work at your local grocery store. For example, beef advertised as “95% lean,” versus “5% fat.” Or, more misleading, food products that don’t naturally contain gluten labeled as “gluten-free” just to make them appear healthy. Gluten-free candy, anyone?
Framing is considered one of the strongest cognitive biases that impact the decision-making process. It can influence everything from our political and social attitudes – what we call spin – to how we spend money and even what type of health insurance we choose.
While all of this may sound alarming, there is a major silver lining. We are not relegated to being only involuntary victims to framing. Instead, we also have the ability to use it as a tool to make better decisions and become happier people.
How Framing Can Help Investors’ Outlook
One of the most enlightening investment charts out there is from J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Guide to the Markets showing the S&P 500’s annual low points and ending year returns since 1980. It certainly comes in handy during wild stock market swings.
The average intra-year market decline has been 14.3% over the past 41 years. Yet annual returns have been positive in all but 10 years, or more than 75% of the time. Of course, the past is no guarantee of the future. But it goes to show there are two ways of looking at a market drop: as something to worry about, or as a typical short-lived decline in another typical year that will likely end in the black.
By framing things in the right way, you can make smarter choices with your money that lead to better outcomes. It can help you avoid rash decisions, such as impulse buying and making emotional investment changes.
It can make you more content with what you have (what I have now is what I once wanted) and more dedicated to saving (to spend this money is to live a life I may not want, but to save is to eventually live the life I do want).
To Be Happy, Have the Right Frame of Mind
There are a variety of ways to frame situations that are conducive to your financial goals. For example, if your friend is getting married in Aruba, and it’s not in your budget to go, instead of thinking to yourself, “We’re missing our friend’s destination wedding,” tell yourself, “We’re choosing to stay committed to our financial goals.” Or say there’s a hot shoe sale going on. Tell yourself, “Yes, that’s a great sale , but it’s still spending money I don’t need to spend.”
But there is much more. Framing can also help you find greater peace of mind and happiness – every day. Research indicates that people become happier with age, greatly because they start to perceive the world in a more positive and impartial light. Journalist John Leland came to that conclusion while spending a year interviewing six New York City residents who were 85 and older. He documented his experience in the book Happiness Is a Choice You Make.
“Older people are more content, less anxious or fearful, less afraid of death, more likely to see the good side of things and accept the bad, than young adults,” Leland writes. A day spent at the doctor’s office for a bad hip was still the gift of another day of being alive. A new complicated device meant spending quality time with the grandkids as they teach you how to use it. For older adults “problems were only problems if you thought about them that way. Otherwise they were life — and yours for the living.”
Give It a Try Yourself
We all have ability to frame situations differently, in a way that leads to better decisions and better outcomes. It can alter our perceptions, changing the way we see ourselves and the way we see others. What do you think if you see someone’s unmade bed? They’re lazy? Sloppy?
Now, what if we frame it in a more compassionate way. Perhaps, it is the habit of someone who is too consumed with work outside the home to be able to give much time to this one detail.
Give it a try. Plan a day to actively reframe things around you. And, whenever something bad happens, pause and ask yourself how you can turn it into a positive. You can work your mind like a muscle until you find yourself more receptive to how things are and less upset over how you wish they were. It’s when you do that, when what you want most – a happy, fulfilling life – happens.
Here are some examples framing things differently:
- Your company’s 401(k) match: It’s limited to a measly 6%, OR it’s a guaranteed 100% return on your contribution.
- A beat-up used car parked next to a Ferrari: Thousands of dollars in income parked next to thousands of dollars in debt
- A pair of $300 shoes: 10 hours of work at $30 per hour in wages
- A kid’s temper tantrum: He’s an out-of-control brat, OR he’s a child who is frustrated at not yet having the words to express himself.
- Someone who is always late: She’s irresponsible and thoughtless, OR she’s someone who respects many people’s time and is too optimistic about how many meetings she can squeeze in.
- Difficult feedback at work: I’m being picked on, OR I’m getting information to help me improve —and surpass the people giving me difficult feedback.
- Market downturn: It’s time to sell everything, OR some good stocks are available at a discount.
You don’t always get to decide what happens in life, but you do always get to decide how you will react, which ultimately determines how events shape you. This brings to mind the oft-cited 2005 Kenyon College commencement speech by writer David Foster Wallace about the value of education in making concerted choices to see the world truthfully and not in a mindless, unfulfilling default mode.
He starts with a story: “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’”
Many of us go through life asking the same question, he says. We make choices based on our set perceptions without trying to see for what they truly are. Wallace continues: “The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.”
But reframing doesn’t come naturally. So, he ends with a proclamation that it is a continuous process, that it will take an “…awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: ‘This is water.’”
Manager of Investor Education, Advance Capital Management
Jacob Schroeder is the Manager of Investor Education at Advance Capital Management (www.acadviser.com/). His goal is to help people make more informed financial decisions and live happier lives. He is also the creator of the personal finance blog Incognito Money Scribe (incognitomoneyscribe.com/), exploring the mystery and meaning of money.
On the occasion of Lohri, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday extended greetings to the nation and prayed for everyone’s happiness, good health and prosperity.
“Bhogi greetings to everyone. I pray that this special day fills everyone’s lives with happiness and good health,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted in English and Telugu.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah also wished people on Lohri, a popular winter folk festival celebrated in the northern region of the country.
“Best wishes for Lohri. May this holy festival bring happiness and prosperity in the lives of all the countrymen,” Shah tweeted
On Lohri, bonfire and folk songs are a major part of the celebrations and a puja parikrama around the bonfire is performed, followed by the distribution of prasad.
Welcoming longer days and the sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere, Lohri is observed the night before Makar Sankranti or Maghi.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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Every year, the Makar Sankranti festival in Hinduism is celebrated from the land of smoke. This festival is called very special and important. Also, this festival has been given the name Khichdi and it is addressed by the people in this name. This year also, the festival is going to be celebrated on 14th January. Now, today, we are going to tell you some of the measures which can be taken on this day. In fact, it is said that by worshipping the law of Surya Dev on this day, the person receives the desired fruit. If there is a sun defect in your horoscope, you must try these measures.
If the sun is in a position below in one’s horoscope or the sun is defective, such people should worship the sun instrument at home on Makar Sankranti day. It benefits and the problem of money is also removed.
It is said that if there are major difficulties in life, the sun should be given an are worthy by mixing kumkum, red flowers, and Ganga water on the day of Makar Sankranti to remove them. Also, chant the mantra 108 times.
Says that donating things like blankets, warm clothes, cereals on the day of Mantax Sankranti brings happiness and prosperity at home.
When the Scriptures are considered, the sun is happy to shed jaggery and rice in the water on Makar Sankranti. Not only that, but it also benefits from eating good and rice on this day.
Says sesame seeds should be eaten on Makar Sankranti to remove sun defects from the coil.
If there is a sun defect, you should worship the Surya Dev on the Makar Sankranti and apply red flowers and red sandalwood. In addition, Aon Bhaskara Nam should be awakened a thousand times.