I have certainly learned that even when one is feeling pretty horrible, summoning forced joviality can actually lead to natural chipperness.
Now, hear this: Botox freezes facial muscles, this we know. By paralyzing specifically the frowning muscles, more than half of a study's participants, who suffer from major depression, felt better ("Don't Worry, Get Botox" by Richard A. Friedman)!
It was believed that facial expressions are simply the, well, expressions of a certain mood; happiness first, then the smile. Not so.
In “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals,” Darwin posited that the control of facial expression causes a like effect on subjective emotions. William James took the idea further and proposed that emotions were the result, not the cause, of various bodily sensations, suggesting that “we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and not that we cry, strike, or tremble, because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be.”
Cause and effect. How often have we gotten this chicken-and-the-egg thing wrong? Yet again, we see how Judaism's emphasis on action, as opposed to motivation, is on target.
In a broad sense, these Botox studies underscore one of the biggest challenges in treating people with depression. They might think that the reason they are depressed is that they have little interest in the world or their friends — a mistaken notion that is the result, not the cause, of their depression. They insist that only once they feel better will it make sense for them to rejoin the world, socialize and start smiling. Their therapists would be well advised to challenge their inverted sense of causality and insist that they will start feeling better after they re-engage with the world.
"I'm not in the mood." True. Not yet.
Give us a grin.