Voice Recognition
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KSBA News Article

President's Perspective

Ronnie Holmes

Humor brings people smiles, laughter and more all because of its secret ingredient: humor tells the truth

Kentucky School Advocate
August 2020

By Ronnie Holmes
KSBA President

Our world today is tough; there’s no doubt about that! The coronavirus pandemic has altered our lives significantly. In our schools, the pandemic has brought about changes to instruction, feeding programs and graduations, and forced us to rethink the 2020-21 school year in order to protect our students, staff and community. Many of these changes have been hard, altering the way we live, work and go to school.

Although this situation can bring negative emotions, we as school board members must do our best to lead with positive attitudes. If we walk around with long, sad faces behind our masks and don’t encourage people, we become part of the problem. Reader’s Digest runs a feature of humorous anecdotes called “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” It is indeed medicinal and even the simple act of smiling, even if no one can see it, can have positive effects.

And with the stress and anxiety of going back to school during a pandemic, we could all use some levity.

Research shows that nearly half of all people notice your smile first and when you smile at other people, half of them will smile back. But what happens when your smile is concealed behind a cloth face covering? Body language experts say smiles still comes through – in your eyes.

Psychologist Paul Ekman, who studies facial expressions, explained to NBC’s “Today Show” that in a true smile, the eyes narrow and crinkle. That genuine smile – also known as the Duchenne smile – engages the orbicularis oculi muscle around the eye.

But it’s not just the eyes that reveal your smile. People can also “hear” when someone smiles because the shape of the mouth changes the modulation of our voice, causing the voice to become brighter, Ursula Hess, a facial expression and emotion researcher at Humboldt University of Berlin, told Scientific American’s German-language sister publication Spektrum der Wissenschaft.

A friend of mine who works in radio says his speech teacher used to urge putting a smile in your voice. People can tell – so keep smiling behind that face mask.

Happy people generally don’t get sick as often as unhappy people, according to research. Seven health benefits of smiling include improved mood, pain relief, lower blood pressure, stronger immune system, stress relief, better relationships and
younger appearance, according to brightspringhealth.com/blog.

While your eyes and voice may convey your unseen smile, there is no doubt when it comes to laughter. Kids laugh about 100 times a day, according to research, while for adults it’s only 14 times. So, in these tough times when things are changing rapidly and everyone is learning a new normal, maybe it would help to get in touch with our inner child and share some laughter!

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