Happy Doctor — Guaranteed Happiness Today
This is the story of a simple surgical procedure I invented. It has made me enormously happy. And rich.
It has made countless other people enormously happy too. And hopefully rich.
Then I invented a non-surgical alternative to the procedure that works just as well. Except it takes a little more time to kick in. Like a few weeks. But it’s guaranteed to work. It’s free. And it’s non-surgical.
What have you got to lose? The five minutes reading this article? I’m afraid I can’t refund that. But if you’re willing to take a chance, read on.
I used to be a successful surgeon. Then one day I became even more successful. Then I realized that I hadn’t really been successful all those 40+ years of my life before. This kind of thing happens. All too often. To many people.
It all started when I was shopping at our farmer’s market once with Mary Jane. Everyone was smiling at me. I realized later that was because I had been smiling at them too.
You see, I’d been an intellectual type all my life. The pensive kind who liked to take long thoughtful walks in the park. I’d be the one lost in thought as you passed me in a grocery store aisle.
You’d be thinking “I’d better stay out of his hair. Don’t want to mess with whatever it is he’s plotting.”
People don’t cozy up to intellectuals. People like feelers. Not thinkers. Robots make good servants. Not good friends.
Nobody cares in anybody else’s truth but their own. Nobody wants to be a waypoint on someone else’s journey. Or a page in somebody else’s search.
But everybody wants to feel happy.
When I came back from the farmer’s market that day I decided to reflect. Because I’m like that. Or used to be.
“Hmm.” I thought. “Lots of peeps was smiling at me today. How unusual!”
I decided to do an experiment. For the next few weeks, when I went out, I carefully picked one of my many faces. I wore it and made sure to keep it on the whole time.
Grumpy. Sleepy. Bored. Happy. I was the seven dwarves. I kept track of only two things: How many people smiled at me and how long I was out there. That way I could keep the counting easy. And figuring out the average number of smiles I got per hour.
Grumpy got the least number of smiles per hour. Zero. No surprise there.
Sleepy got none either. Bored got 1. Happy got the most. Almost two dozen smiles in an hour. I couldn’t believe it. So I thought more.
“Maybe it was Trader Joe’s” I thought. People are always smiling at Trader Joe’s.
So I repeated the experiment at Walmart. People are always serious at Walmart. You don’t have time to smile when you’re out looking for a deal.
But I got the same result. In the ballpark of two dozen smiles per hour. That’s funny, I thought. So I repeated the experiment on multiple days at multiple places controlling for all kinds of things. Same result. Same order of magnitude difference in the number of smiles for each kind of face.
Maybe people were smiling at the happy me because they were too scared not to smile back? When you’re smiling for no apparent reason, people likely think you’re up to something.
And then maybe they smile at you hoping you’ll spare them from being the victims of some prank you’re cooking up?
Dunno. The bottom line is that peoples smiled. And it made me happy too. Even though I started out with an artificial smile, it became a real smile.
When people saw my put-on smile they smiled back. Then I started to smile back too. Except I didn’t. I already was. And couldn’t nobody tell the difference! To them I was just a smiley happy person. Always.
That got me thinking. Yeah — like I said, I was like that.
Are happy smiley people really happy then? Are they actually as happy as they look?
I brought my awesome knowledge of anatomy to bear on this subject that night.
“What a great idea!” I thought.
You see, there is a default facial expression for each of us. That’s programmed in our genes. And it’s unrelated to the mental state of the face that wears it.
If someone looks smiley and they aren’t consciously smiling, they aren’t necessarily happy. They may just have a default smiley face.
But only they would know that. In the world we create in our heads they are just a smiley happy person.
Likewise for the frownies. I’m gonna simplify things a little to describe what I mean.
If your default facial neuromuscular configuration is of a smiley face, then smiling is the facial expression that requires the least effort for you. That’s what your face looks like even when you’re not consciously exercising your facial muscles. That’s how you look to others when you’re lost in thought. That’s the face that comes naturally to you. Everything else is an exertion.
Now that doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t frown. But it’ll take muscular effort for you to do it. Not much, but a little. Then when you’re done frowning you’ll return to your “easy state” which is smiley.
What can be said about such a person? If they’re smiling, they’re not necessarily happy. But if they’re frowning, they’re definitely unhappy.
Now if your default neuromuscular configuration is of a frowny face, then frowning is the facial expression that requires the least effort for you. So that’s how you look like to others when you’re lost in thought… when you’re not doing or thinking anything in particular. Even when you’re not feeling angry or grumpy.
What can be said about such a person? If they’re smiling, they’re genuinely happy. But if they’re frowning, well, they’re not necessarily grumpy.
But the funny thing is, as I just said, there’s a strong connection between the image we project and how the world treats us, which in turn determines how we end up feeling.
Smiley people are predisposed to becoming really happy even if they started out smiling for no apparent reason. Frowny people are predisposed to becoming grumpy even if they started out frowning for no apparent reason.
So I thought “Well, well, well. If there ain’t an awesome business opportunity right there…”
I worked out the details over the next few days.
I pored over my neuromuscular surgery texts and designed a clever procedure.
By surgically altering a few muscles and nerves in a patient’s face, I could change its default neuromuscular configuration.
If they had a default face that was pensive, or brooding, or angry, or sad, or grumpy, I could rewire the face so it was smiling by default.
The procedure was entirely safe, could be performed in my clinic.
And the patient could walk back home that very afternoon. All smiles.
When I described the procedure to one of my patients he was skeptical.
He had watched the Willem Dafoe short on YouTube. Of a man who could do nothing else but smile because of an accident.
It was hilarious. “But no thanks” he said.
“It’s not like that” I said.
“The guy in that short… He couldn’t not smile at all. He had a stuck smile. That’s creepy. But my procedure isn’t like that. It just sets your default expression. If you want to frown you can.”
“But no thanks” he repeated. With a big disarming smile. What could you say to that?
Another patient asked if I’d ever done this procedure to anyone else before.
I said no. She’d be the lucky first. I haven’t seen her since.
So I decided to get it done myself. After all, I designed the procedure and I knew how to reverse it if it didn’t work out. And yeah, it was reversible.
I guess I should have used that line with the last two prospects.
I thought that if a future patient were to ask if I’d ever done this procedure to anyone else before, I’d just flash a knowing smile at them.
Then they’d know.
So I sold my colleague on the idea and had him do the procedure on me. I didn’t have to go under for it. Local anaesthetic.
But I closed my eyes anyway.
When I opened them again a few hours later, my colleague told me that the day must have gone very well for me so far.
Then I knew.
I’ve now lost count of the number of smiles I’m getting everywhere I go. People smile at me for no apparent reason. Everyone is ready to help me.
Best of all, my patients don’t need convincing to be sold this procedure any more. They come asking for it.
4000+ patients and counting. All smiling even as they’re thinking that their insurance won’t foot the bill ’cuz it’s a cosmetic procedure.
Pity. But I tell them it’s worth it. The reflected happiness they get from other people will make them genuinely happier. And maybe end up preventing a heart-attack or stroke one day.
They’re still smiling.
And I’m smiling. All the way to the bank.
Since those days, I’ve found a simpler, no-cost and non-invasive alternative to the procedure. I don’t need the money any more, so I’ll just describe it to you.
It’s free. You can try it out and if it doesn’t work, simply give it up. It’s that simple.
You see, muscles are muscles. No matter where they are. When an athlete trains for a marathon, she doesn’t train overnight. She trains for months.
And little by little her muscles adapt over time to make running long stretches easy.
If you do 50 pushups every morning before breakfast. It’ll be hard at first. Excruciating even.
But over time, it gets easy. Pretty soon you’ll feel incomplete if you didn’t do it.
Muscles adapt organically to external stimuli. Now we know that even nerves do.
So if you want to have a default smiley face, all you have to do is to exercise the right muscles in your face.
Each day, make a time to smile as widely as you can. Then hold it as long as you could. You’ll feel your muscles tug. It may get slightly uncomfortable. But hold it. It will get easier in time. You’ll even stop drooling.
Also, generally smile a little more each day. In fact, smile consciously for at least 15 minutes each day at no less than 15 people.
Just 15 minutes… Unless you’re too busy to do it or feeling really grumpy.
In that case smile for at least an hour each day at no less than 60 people.
Eventually, the muscles responsible for frowning will give way to the muscles responsible for smiling. It will get so easy to keep a smile that you’ll find yourself doing it subconsciously.
And you’ll find that you don’t want to frown unless you have very Very VERY good reason to. Because it will take effort to frown.
Before long you’ll see the difference it has made in your life.
And the lives of people around you.
And on you as a result.
You can smile me a thank you later.
PS. This is, alas, a work of fiction.