The smile can be eaten!
Let’s look at the argument in greater detail:
1) The importance of having a convivial attitude
The art of conviviality comes, above all, from a mental disposition to give oneself and to offer empathy. In one of his famous poems, Gibran compares love to preparing food for others. It is about becoming capable of offering oneself at the table to satisfy not just the physical hunger of those present but to offer them the more substantial and tasty food of our attentive and generous presence:
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
2) The importance of a correct diet
Conviviality and the pleasure of good food are known to reduce social inhibitions, nervousness and stress. Not everybody knows, however, that in addition to the purely convivial and carefree aspect, good humor can also be fostered through correct diet. This diet should be based on foods whose chemical composition favors the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. The latest neurochemical research shows that the brain and also the central nervous system nourish themselves like any other organ. This is why nutritional imbalances can provoke unhappiness, mental confusion and other more or less serious symptoms. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that allow for the transfer of information between the cells of the nervous system and thus regulate the thoughts, emotions, memory and humor. Different neurotransmitters are built up through specific nutritive substances such as minerals, vitamins and amino acids. If the diet lacks these elements this can easily produce mood disorders.
The other nutrients that work together to produce neurotransmitters, as well as serotonin, are in the vitamin B group. Several studies have shown the relationship between depression and the lack of vitamin B. B1, in particular, is the vitamin that the brain has most need of to function. B12 is also important, as it is essential for the vascular system of the brain. B6 is particularly precious to women who are sensitive to hormonal fluctuations.
In what foods are these vitamins found? They are found in beer yeast, wheatgerm, liver, eggs, and especially wholemeal cereals like wheat, barley, oats, corn, rice, rye and hulled wheat.
3) What about chocolate?
The Aztecs, who introduced us to this delicacy, considered chocolate as a sacred drink. Western science also classified the plant that produces it as ‘miraculous’, giving it the name of Teobroma cacao – “the food of the gods”.
The miraculous effects are due to the fact that eating chocolate increases the production of serotonin which is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for happiness.
4) And ice-cream?
Nicu Sebe and Theo Gevers, two researchers at the University of Amsterdam’s Science Department, have developed a software that can recognize and measure the expression on a human face. They have used this software to analyze the facial expressions of people who were eating different kinds of food, from ice-cream to bowls of cereal.
Ice-cream proved itself the food that gave the best results. The expression of those eating ice-cream was far happier than that of people eating other foods.
What is so wonderful about ice-cream?
The answer of neuroscience is very complete and includes the aspects related to the pleasure of the taste, those related to pleasurable infantile memories as well as those due to specific movements that make use of the facial muscles to enjoy ice-cream.
When you’re enjoying an ice-cream you’re activating the same facial muscles as when you laugh, even though you’re not aware of this. As the body, mind and soul are closely connected, this means that when the body reproduces the smiling expression, the central nervous system also adjusts to this stimulus. Just as when you are really laughing the central nervous system produces serotonin and this makes you feel happy.
5) So now bring the smile to the table! But there’s more … a great deal of ancient wisdom in what you’re about to read!
When we’re at table it’s easier to smile because food, as we’ve seen, and maybe a good glass of wine as well, help to create a joyful atmosphere where tension is reduced. Let’s take advantage of this to climb inside this smile to carry it round with us and release it at the right times and places!
This is what an anonymous Franciscan monk suggests:
“A smile costs nothing, but gives a lot.
It enriches those who receive it without making poorer those who give it.
A smile takes only a moment, but the memory of it can last forever.
No one is so rich, or so mighty, that they can get along without a smile.
And no one is so poor that they cannot be made richer by a smile.
A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters goodwill in business and is the counter sign of friendship.
A smile brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad and is nature’s best cure for trouble
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen for it is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give a smile so give them one of yours as no one needs a smile so much as he who has no more of his own to give.”