by Paul Niquette
Adapted from 101 Words I Don't Use
Copyright ©1996 Resource Books All rights reserved.
subconscious n. A psychiatric term, replaced years ago, while my conscious mind was on something else, by unconscious:  The division of the psyche not subject of direct observation but inferred from its effects on attitude and behavior.

ver notice how old photographs do not show smiling faces? The explanation bears on the subject at hand.

In the 19th Century, photographic emulsions were so slow, it was necessary for subjects to hold a pose for a minute or longer.  Try maintaining a genuine smile for that long.  Photographers back then knew the problem well.  A forced smile initiated by a command ("say cheese") appears quickly and then fades, blurring the image.  A prolonged smile takes practice (ask actors, flight attendants, candidates for public office).  Some people never get the hang of it.

A primitive, unconscious force adjusts countenance to disposition.  In religious parlance: "an outward visible sign of an inward spiritual truth."

So it's hard not to "betray" your attitude with your behavior.  It takes energy.  You dare not relax.  Your unconscience is nagging: "Hey, brain, your face is trying to pull something out there."  Not only that, but you must violate precepts taught in childhood.  Does maturity necessarily mean renouncing genuine facial expressions?  I think not.

Here's what I think: Behavior influences attitude as much as the other way around.  How's that for a radical idea?  Come on, there's always room for one more of those...

  • Natural childbirth and breast feeding, both discouraged by conventional medical wisdom not so long ago, are standard patterns of parenting now.
  • Guilt and repression, once demolished by psychiatric dogma, are making a come-back, too.  It's healthy to have feelings of guilt -- if you do something to feel guilty about.
  • Evidence is mounting that it may be better to hold some things in after all!  Expressing anger makes one angrier.  "Let it all hang out," is out.
he latest trends in unconscious theory suggest to me that a human individual is all connected up inside -- body and brain, motion and emotion, behavior and attitude.  The hook-ups are complex.  Some signalling pathways are known to be two-way, why not all?  It's all so danged unconscious, though.

However much I deplore the The A-Word, I do not assert that attitude has nothing to do with behavior.  Indeed, only during those moments when behavior matches attitude, will a person experience true happiness. Happiness, not necessarily the highest monetary rewards.

  • Maybe the most accomplished actor really does go into a private funk on stage.
  • Do you suppose the top attorneys have the ability to impose a synthetic state-of-mind on themselves for the duration of a trial?
  • The marketeer sells himself before he knocks on a door.
  • Plenty of politicos, I'm sure, wind up believing the malarkey they put out.
So, go ahead and smile at the birdie, you'll probably feel happier for the effort.  Try putting up a cheerful front on the job, you may actually find something to like about your work.  Act kindly to your parents, and see if your outlook towards them responds favorably.  Just a suggestion.

Don't get too content about paying taxes, though. Crackpot ideas have their limits.

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