Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Third Artist's Happiness Challenge - The Duchenne Smile

The Artist's Happiness Challenge is an e-course consisting of six artistic challenges (lessons) based on the current research being done in the field of positive psychology. I am posting challenges here.

The Third Challenge is ready when you are. It has three parts to it.
First, you need to go to: http://www.selfesteemgames.mcgill.ca/ where there are some short "self esteem games" developed by doctoral students from McGill's Department of Psychology: Jodene Baccus, Stéphane Dandeneau and Maya Sakellaropoulo, under the direction and supervision of Mark Baldwin, an associate psychology professor.

There are three games to choose from; EyeSpy, WHAM!, and Grow Your Chi. In these games you are given the opportunity to find DUCHENNE smiles (genuine, lit up from inside) from PAN AM smiles (false, based on airlines' hostess smiles) and even grumpy faces. Play any or all of these games. My favorites are Grow Your Chi and EyeSpy.

Basically these games teach you to look for the smiling/approving person in a crowd of frowning or bland faces, repeatedly and as quickly as possible. In order to successfully and accurately identify the smiling/approving face, you need to get in the mind frame of “Look for acceptance, and ignore rejection because it slows me down”.

(The web site also has some downloadable PDF's of their research. A very nice website!)

Now on to part two: Once you've played the game a little and are sensitized looking for the Duchenne smile, start making a small collection of these smiles. I don't think the rather giddy, self-involved, manic smile (does it have a name) you see in advertising is quite what we are looking for. What we want is the smile of your grandmother who hasn't seen you for a long time, or the smile of your best friend who is so glad to see you. It's a smile that lets you know that you are cared for, because you are who you are.

Now on to part three: When you have your little collection of Duchenne smiles, take one that you like the best and use it to create a small work of art, an Artist Trading Card (2 and 1/2 inch by 3 and 1/2 inch on card stock or heavy water color paper). Your next challenge doesn't come until Thursday, so you don't have to do this one all in one sitting.

Ysaye Barnwell of "Sweet Honey and the Rock" has a song called “No mirrors in my Nana’s house.” She had a friend who lived with her grandmother. There were no mirrors in her Nana’s house. "How did you know how you looked in the morning," Ysaye asked. Ysaye's friend told her, "I look into her eyes and I knew I look just fine, the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes. I never knew from her that my skin was too black, or my nose was too flat, or that my clothes didn't fit." Ysaye tells a related story in which a distraught child goes to her grandmother after being teased in the school yard. “Someone called me such and such” the little girl said. The grandmother responded, “If you want to know who you are you look into my eyes.” Ysaye suggests we should get our perceptions of ourselves from people who love us, by looking into their eyes, by listening to them describe us.

Your Duchenne smile Artist's Trading Card should give you that same feeling. Put it somewhere visible where you might need a little positive reflection. Have fun with this and tell me how it went. Also if any one knows the name of the self-involved, manic, giddy smile I'd be happy to know it.

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