Coming to terms with being human.


How do you feel today?

How good are you at reading faces? Do you know when your boss is frustrated? Can you tell the difference between a heartfelt smile and a sorority smile? Could you beat Will Riker at poker? If you are any good at reading the emotions of others, you are better than me.
A while back I read a newspaper article on emotions. The article included a test. There were eight pictures showing faces in various emotional states. The average person can match up all of the faces with the corresponding emotional label. I got three right.
Empathy requires a bit of mind reading. Human beings do not emit emotional radiation. We do, however, express ourselves through motion and sound. When you see this guy, you know he has a headache. There is a conscious component to recognizing his pain. You can understand the scrunched up forehead and grimace he gives as reserved for such moments. There is also a non-conscious mechanism made up of mirror neurons.

Mirror neurons fire not only when you perform an action but also when other people do the same action. Mirror neurons provide a biological mechanism for empathy. When you see a child pouting your brain may actually register the information through the same neurons that would fire if you were pouting yourself. Yes boys, there is finally a scientific explanation to why a baseball to your pal’s groin makes you double over in pain.
Mirror neurons may help us understand differences in temperaments. The Thinkers in Myers-Briggs terminology may have less active mirror neurons.
In closing, a haiku.

cresting waves and foam
tell nothing to the sailor
about the great deep


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