Being playful makes you happy! Children are experts in engaging in play and so let’s take a deeper look into some of the elements that influence this. We humans all have our own unique way of being playful, but there is a curious difference between the ways children and adults form playful relationships. Adolescent children seek playmates by using their body language to show interest in playing with another. Playing footsie or shyly peering over at a potential play mate, curving their bodies non aggressively, and smiling are all elements of children’s play. Adults on the other hand have more of an awareness of their own bodies and how they fit into their society. This naturally influences adults to approach play in a more confrontational way, adults tend to use more rigid body language and use more direct language to invite another to play with them. Where an adult might say, “Do you want to play ball with me?”, a child might just make eye contact and then throw the ball to the other child. Having a conscious awareness of how play can improve your happiness may change how you approach play in your life.
When we are having fun we tend to smile. Our brains are telling our bodies that we are happy, and the result influences us to smile. When we smile we are also compound our feeling of happiness because we use muscles in our face that send triggers to our brain that tells us that we are happy. The zygomatic major is the primary muscle which we use to smile. Direct neural feedback is the process by which the zygomatic major transmits messages of happiness to our brain.
Smiling is a powerful expression that can become contagious to those around you. Mirroring is when someone who you are talking with copies your body language. This in turn unconsciously creates a shared understanding of acceptance between the two parties. This nonverbal communication is called social feedback and social feedback makes you happy.
Now that we know the value of smiling we can use this to our advantage to control our own emotional state, and to liven the emotions of those around us. Practice engaging those zygomatic major muscles and see how it affects your mood, and the moods of the people who encircle you. Remember people want recognition, and they want to be noticed and seen, and so they will likely appreciate you for mirroring their actions. Use your body knowledge to create positive relationships, and feelings of gratitude will emerge.