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You learn something new every day. Today, for me, it was the discovery of a thing called the “ideological happiness gap.”

According to the news account I read, it’s long been held that political conservatives are happier than their liberal counterparts; thus, the gap. That conclusion, it appears, has been based on how both groups of people self-report their states of being.

But wait! Once again, objective science has joined the debate, and ideological happiness may never again be viewed in the same way. That’s because rather than relying on folks to tell researchers how truly happy they are (thanks to their ideological bent, I guess), their actual place on the ideological happiness index has now been subjected to how they really act! A brilliant deduction by the researchers.

And what has that new-found insight brought us? Nothing less than the overturning of the ideological apple cart–liberals, it seems, in fact act happier than conservatives.

Not that I’m terribly surprised. For example, who can forget the repeated scenes of angry, old white people rage of the Tea Party’s emergence? Or the hate-mongering, fear-driven ranting on conservative radio? It never seemed particularly “happy” to me.

But what struck me most about the new study was something subtler than the collective, clearly visible anger on the right: “The study also examined publicly available photographs of 533 members of Congress, finding that conservative politicians were less likely than liberals to display smiles involving facial muscles around the eyes, a measure that previous research has found to be associated with genuine emotion.”

There it was, the evidence that took this beyond words. It’s all in the eyes. And it’s left me grinning from ear-to-ear.

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