Human beings are capable of expressing a variety of emotions. Happiness is one such emotion that is manifested as a smile. Smile is an outcome of a state of mind that involves activity of a variety of different cellular and molecular processes. A person becomes happy when he gets a stimulus in the form of auditory or visual signal. It cannot be denied that chimpanzees can elicit facial expression that may be construed as a smile. Unfortunately, since we do not know how to communicate with a chimpanzee, we may not be able to say with a degree of certainty if facial expression of a Chimpanzee actually can actually be construed as a smile and a happy state of mind.
An ordinary human being may need a reason to be happy. He may get a good news, which can be considered an auditory stimulus. Or he may see something visually appealing, which is a visual stimulus. It is also possible that a person recalls something interesting and feels happy. Whatever may be the nature of stimulus, alteration in brain chemical levels leads to a smile. Several neurotransmitters have been identified that alter mood and behavior. These neurotransmitters include norephinephrine, dopamine, oxytocin etc.
Do we need reason to be happy? Since happiness is an interplay of brain chemicals, it is possible that levels of these chemical may be altered due to physiological changes or pharmacologically by adding drugs / chemicals from outside or by practice.
• One must accept that on certain days a person may feel happy due to endogenous reasons. We do not know the reason, it may be possible that due to some unexplained reason/s, levels of brain chemicals may be high on those days.
• There may be individuals who can achieve certain degree of control over his physiological system may control release of neurochemicals and stay in a state of perpetual happiness.
• A drug can induced a state of perpetual happiness and / or a state of elevated mood by altering levels of brain chemicals. Many drugs and chemicals, for example cannabis, cocaine, opium, amphetamine etc. either increase the level of neurotransmitters or mimic their effects.
• Finally, does a smile always reflect a state of happy mind? Humans are highly evolved social beings. While they smile when happy, then are capable to eliciting a similar facial expression even when a person is unhappy or sad. Thus it may be fair to look at expression of whole face that includes eyes also and not simply at smile that can be induced mechanically also.
This post is written in response to an Indispire prompt. More articles in response to this prompt may be found here.