Health & Fitness

Aging Matters: How long since you really looked at your public face?

Seems like every month promotes some special cause. August has been dubbed Happiness Month. Maybe it should be called Look in the Mirror Month.

Mirrors have two sides: a bright, reflective public face, and one that’s dull, gray, opaque and never meant for public display.

How long has it been since you’ve looked — really looked — at your own reflection in a mirror? The public side, that is.

Our face mirrors our disposition. Gloom is contagious — it spreads like the flu. But a cheerful face is just as infectious. Who can stay moody around a happy 2-year-old? It takes very little energy to turn that scowl into a smile.

“But,” you whine, “I don’t feel happy.” Doesn’t matter. Give your face permission to lie a little. Pretend you’re an actor onstage, put on a happy face mask and play-act a cheerful smile. Let that somewhat artificial good front reflect on all those you encounter.

Pay someone a compliment. Build an optimistic aura around you. Every gleam in the eye kindles a flicker of warmth that envelopes others, sometimes even against their own conscious will. You’ll feel like the ancient alchemist turning lead into gold. Only this time, it works.

It’s not every day that music from a Broadway musical expresses as direct a directive as the signature song from “Bye Bye Birdie.” Every word admonishes us to “put on a happy face.” To “brush off the clouds and cheer up,” to “wipe off that full-of-doubt look, slap on a happy grin!”

At our age, each of us has a burden of sorrow, perhaps loss of a loved one, perhaps deteriorating health, perhaps a host of minor depressants. But why share those downers with friends?

There’s National Boost-Your-Self-Esteem Month (February), Mom and Apple Pie Month (September) and National Roller Skating Month (October). But this is Happiness Month. Why not honor August by spreading sunshine? It may be just a facade. But surely such a mini-sin wouldn’t condemn our blessed souls.