If you have spent any time at all on the NYC subway during rush hour, you know that bad moods are more catchy than the flu in a toddler playgroup. Everyone is scowling. And by the time you get to your destination, even if you started the morning feeling good, you probably feel at least a tinge of grumpiness, depression, irritation, or impatience. Why is that? Well, it seems that we have these nifty little things in our brains called mirror neurons. These little neurons fire when we observe an action in another person, mirroring the observed action, as though the observer were himself acting.
What does that mean? It means that when you are performing authentically onstage, the audience can read it and will feel the actions and emotions that they see in you onstage. That’s one of the reasons we cry during Madame Butterfly. At least when the singer acts authentically. It’s also the reason that technically beautiful performances can leave us cold, even when we appreciate the technical artistry.
It means that your child will understand your emotion more readily than your words, especially if they are in conflict.
It means that Gandhi was right. You should literally be the change you want to see in the world. Because if you smile, you might get other people smiling, too. And maybe make your morning commute a little nicer.
Experiment (especially if you live in New York City): For one day, smile when you are with other people. Report back here in the comments. Let us all know if you noticed any differences in yourself or those around you.