When my husband and I got serious about our relationship, he admitted he was first drawn to me because of my smile. David (my husband) is like most people. We are drawn to people who smile because smiling faces communicate happiness, warmth, acceptance, and love. What are masks really preventing?
Our Faces Communicate Who We Are
Our face is our primary source of communication. While we scan people’s bodies and appearances to form our opinions, we cannot know the person without hearing his/her words and reading the person’s facial expressions.
Masks Prevent Us From Revealing Our True Selves
Our faces communicate who we are. That’s why bank robbers, thieves, and members of certain organizations cover their faces. They can’t be identified for who they are, but are identified by what they do. (Side note: Any member of a group that requires masks becomes anonymous and has given up his/her independence.) From this, we can assert that masks prevent us from revealing our true selves.
Covid19 Government Imposed Mandates
Most of us are mandated to wear masks these days and maintain (the oxymoron) social distancing to prevent the spread of an unfamiliar virus named Covid19. I certainly respect the health and well-being of others and myself. However, I struggle with being forced to do something that goes against my human need to read people’s faces and my natural inclination for social interaction. Especially, when said mandates are based on ambiguous and inconsistent information.
Albeit, I comply with these government directives, but confess that it is very uncomfortable. I can no longer read people’s faces. I have a difficult time understanding muffled voices. And, I am constantly trying to get comfortable wearing a paper product that is supposed to prevent the spread of a virus that came from the same country where the mask was made.
In addition, breathing my own recycled air that fogs up my eyeglasses while trying to overcome the sense of suffocation is unnerving. I am preoccupied with my discomfort. But then I look around at the other people donning their face coverings. I wonder if they share my anguish or are they contentedly smiling? Since I can’t tell what they are communicating, I do what comes natural and shy away from them.
Masks Prevent Friendly Interactions
It is apparent to me that masks are preventing us from having friendly interactions.
Friendly interactions include smiling. Despite my mask mayhem, I’ve tried masked smiling at people. But, I can’t tell if they are smiling back or if they even noticed my smile. Smiling has become challenging and limited.
Health Benefits of Smiling
Smiling promotes friendliness and communicates love and acceptance. It also has physical, emotional, and relational health benefits. Smiling eases us into laughter which increases our level of endorphins. These chemical hormones activate our bodies’ opiate receptors which reduce physical and emotional pain. Smiling and laughter also boost our immune systems and lower blood pressure. Simply put, smiling and laughter make us healthier.
Social Benefits of Smiling
When you smile, it makes you appear more approachable. It draws people to you rather than pushes them away. Since we are a social species, smiling is a natural way of connecting with others and building social bonds, which make us safer and more secure.
Smiling Imposes God’s Mandates
Genuine smiles communicate confidence and imply the presence of Honesty, Empathy, Accountability, Respect, and Trust = HEART which equals love. These are God’s mandates that bring about happiness.
Masks Prevent Us From Being Happy
Wearing masks may prevent us from spreading disease, but it can also cause dis-ease. We must be careful. Wearing masks can keep us from smiling and prevents us from seeing the smiles of other people. Therefore, it prevents us from experiencing the values we must have to be happy. But, we can overcome that.
Have God in Your Heart and You’ll Have the Values for Happiness
Even though mask wearing prevents us from experiencing the values that lead us to happiness, as long as we keep God in our hearts, we have those values in us. We can experience those values with ourselves, with people closely associated with us, and with God. The Apostle Paul found contentment even while he was in prison by giving thanks and glory to God and serving others through his writings. (Philippians4:6-13) He knew how to be happy during dire times. We can do the same thing.
Be grateful for what you have, give glory to God, and serve others during this time. You will find joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment. Even when you wear a mask, you will be happy!