face at rest

When I was younger, I noticed that some people looked angry or sad when their faces were at rest. That is, when they weren’t thinking about anything in particular — or at least they didn’t look like they were thinking about anything. I noticed this when people were walking down the street. Some people looked like upbeat, but more seemed to be frowning than anything. Still others looked vaguely sad… I felt sorry for them.

I decided that I wanted my face to look friendly and, if possible, to look like I was happy as my normal state. I wanted my natural resting face to be a smile. I thought that would make me more approachable. Part of me wished that most people could have happy resting faces. I don’t think I thought I could start a trend or anything, but I knew I wanted to be part of that happy crowd. So I practiced. Whenever I realized I hadn’t been thinking about anything in particular, I tried to freeze my face in the expression it had and check if it was frowning or if my lips were tight or anything like that. I consciously relaxed the muscles in my face until I thought I looked unbothered and perhaps even contented. I find I still search through my facial muscles to be sure that they’re not tensed up and relax them. I’ve done this several times while typing this out tonight.

I don’t know if it worked or not, but I am frequently the one asked for directions or approached in groups. Maybe it’s my unconsciously welcoming and relaxed expression. Maybe more people should have that. Are you frowning now? Have you frowned today? Stop!

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2 responses to “face at rest

  1. When I was in my first year of college back in the Philippines, I was told by some close friends that I looked snobbish because I always looked serious and just looked straight ahead while walking down a hallway at school. I didn’t realize that the people I passed by thought of me this way. It was only because I was shy and uncomfortable making eye contact. Since being made aware of this, I have made a conscious effort to smile or, at least, acknowledge the other person. Now, I see other people do this in the hallway and I can understand why they might seem “snobbish” or “unfriendly” having been shy myself. But it only takes minimal effort to break that barrier and I’m usually the one to start it. Now, the only dilemma I’m faced with is when to acknowledge them (think of a long hallway): when you first see them or when you get close enough? Now add to that my being near-sighted and not wearing my contacts. If I don’t recognize someone right away will people think I’m ignoring them? 🙂

  2. Years ago, I was walking east on 17th Street on the edge of Dolores Park, and as I was passing someone, he said, “hey man, don’t worry, it’ll all be alright!” I smiled, and only then realized I had a particularly intense look on my face.

    But I try doing the same thing, being mindful of my demeanor because I think it does affect people around us. If you walk by someone with hostile energy, you feel defensive. If you walk by someone who is calm, you feel calm. So I think that’s a great idea, I’ll work on it.

    I remember always getting a calm, relaxed, gentle vibe from you. Almost an aura.

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