I first heard the phrase "it takes more muscles to frown than smile" from Phil Gross back when I returned to DuPont after my convalescence. It was a few days after starting back to work; as I was no longer assigned to his Management Reports Section, Phil stopped by my new office to welcome me back and see how I was doing. This was the first time since he flew up to Long Island Jewish Hospital that Phil saw me.
Unfortunately, when Phil came to see me that first week of December, I was at my lowest point since my operation; frustrated with the glacial pace of my recovery, and not happy to be back in public... Although I was very appreciative that he stopped by to see me it was not readily apparent by the look on my face. My mood was glum and I maintained a sour expression throughout the conversation.
Phil tried his best to cheer me up. He made a couple of quips meant to make me smile, but all I did was nod in acknowledgment. That was my common response in public whenever a smile was appropriate—a nod of acknowledgement...
After a short chat, as Phil got up to leave he implored me to cheer up, and then said, "you know Paul, it takes more muscles to frown than smile." It sounded platitudinous and homespun, not typical of the sometimes raunchy phrases—and there were many of them—that I would hear in the corporate setting. (Once after meeting with a senior business analyst from one of the DuPont business units--a kindly gentleman who started working at DuPont before I was born--and approving his project financials, he ended the meeting by saying "I am happier than a dog with two dicks.")
Nevertheless, if anybody at DuPont could pull off homespun without seeming inauthentic, it was the well-grounded Phil.
...I did ask Dr. Rubin if there was any truth to “it takes more muscles to frown than smile”. I told him I thought it sounded like an old wives tale; Dr. Rubin chuckled and explained that from a medical basis it technically was true. More important, he told me, there is research supporting the theory that smiling has therapeutic benefits...
My resurrection from the depths of despair subsequent to my surgery was now complete. I was back totally: emotionally, professionally, and to the extent possible, physically. My marriage to Cheryl was the culmination of a journey of recovery, and yet it was just a stop on a longer journey... Phil Gross was not present at my wedding to Cheryl (although my current boss John was.) If Phil had been present or saw the photos from the wedding, he would have seen that six years after he first said it to me, I now embraced the notion that “it takes more muscles to frown than smile”. After the wedding, several friends told me that they had never seen me smile like I did while marrying Cheryl.
Dr. Paul Thornton is currently a university administrator. In the past he has been a professor, small business owner, and corporate executive.