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Duchenne Smiles of Brookhaven Retreat

Tuesday, 01 July 2014 07:05  by Donita B.

The “Crows-feet” of genuine joy and satisfaction flash with involuntary sparks of true beauty in the eyes of the ladies at Brookhaven Retreat. Whether the broad infectious smiles that resonate through a group of satisfied ladies having just mastered a challenge on the ropes course or the sweet twinkling of an unguarded smile from a grateful lady being watched over while she tries to fall asleep…to the escape of the unexpected and radiant giggle stunningly bubbling forth at the humor within her community…Mother Teresa said it best, “I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.”

No single action of the human body has been studied more than the smile. In fact, studies show that there are possibly 50 types of smiles that can be divided into just two categories: the genuine (Duchenne smile) and the fake (Pan American smile). The genuine smile is named after the French physician Guillaume Duchenne, who studied the physiology of facial expressions in the nineteenth century. He writes, “The Zygomaticus major can be willed into action, but that only the sweet emotion of the soul force the orbicularis oculi to contract. Its inertia in smiling unmasks a false friend.” Why? Because the Duchenne smile involves the Orbicularis oculi muscle, which is the involuntary muscle that surrounds the eyes. It is the only muscle capable of closing the eyelid, but when the genuine feelings of joy and satisfaction occur the Zygomaticus major muscles and the Orbicularis oculi muscles work together to create the tiny skin folds we call “crows feet”

According to Anne Warwick’s Seven Reasons to Smile, written in 2012, smiling is innate and natural, smiling tells it all, smiling makes you happy, smiling makes others happy, smiling is contagious, smiling makes you attractive and smiling is good for your health. It is fascinating to consider that smiling actually suppresses the control we usually have on our facial muscles. She challenges the reader to attempt both smiling and frowning at the same time. The ladies at Brookhaven Retreat work hard to tease apart, understand and release the depression, addiction and traumas in their lives, and their breakthroughs continually pierce our hearts like Robin Hood’s bow with the unmistakable infectiousness of the Duchenne Smile. John Ray, a naturalist in the nineteenth century wrote, “Beauty is Power and a Smile is Its Arrow.”

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