In the film 2009 The Invention Of Lying, Ricky Gervais puts forward a world, a society, where everybody tells the truth. In essence, everyone you encounter is exactly as they seem. Warts and all.
Obviously this notion would be an impossibility in modern society. We generally go through life as a daily lie. Not harmful, deceitful lies. Just the sort of halve truths that allow people to coexist.
You know the sort of thing; morning, how you doing? Oh, I’m fine thanks, you? I’m good, thank you. A perfectly pleasant exchange. Just how we like it. Nobody really wants to hear an uncomfortable truth; morning, how you doing? I’m shit. I hate this job, my underwear is too tight and physical violence against my fellow commuters is illegal, how you doing? If you anticipated, or even had the slightest inkling, that this would be the response you received after your polite enquiry, you would stop at ‘morning’.
We all operate, necessarily, behind mask. The way one is with one’s friends is not generally the way one is with work colleagues. Even amongst friends, even those you consider close, do not see reality. We project the happy. The confident and in control you. Yeah, you got bills and the odd irritation at work, but it’s alright. You handle it.
Maybe, just maybe, you are happy and/or content. Somebody has to be. Even as you travel on the crowded tube or bus, observing the sullen faces, glued to phone screens or Kindle screens or just staring into space, do you see a sea of chirpy, excited people, eager to get to work?
In fact, when you do see someone smiling on the tube, does it not look odd? We mostly try to affect a neutral visage; the default face.
It can be mildly sullen, non plussed, disdainful, curious, menacing, tired; so many options, only one is your default. It tells the world what sort of person you are.
Are you serious? Approachable? Fearful? Fearsome? All these are things that a person, encountering you for the first time, will subconsciously contemplate, anticipating certain expectations from the meeting.
So how do you get your default face? It is a combination of your upbringing, thinking and character. We are shaped by our experiences, these create our outlook on life; decide our approach.
It is within our control to project the image, the face, we want the world to see. This is something we do everyday, mixing in society. Our default face, the face we show when relaxed, in that mild trance that takes you to work, that takes a deeper, holistic embrace of life. For the default face you want, that relaxed, Dai Lama-esque, air of serenity, you need to appreciate and accept the life you have, that way you may find contentment.