Yep….this is a real thing. Lauren McCarthy, an MIT grad, invented the Happiness Hat which when worn will cause a little metal spike to poke you in the head if you stop smiling. The hat is designed with a sensor that detects movement in your face, so when you frown the sensor will trigger the spike and cause you to immediately smile to avoid the painful jab.
After reading more about McCarthy and her invention, I see the logic behind creating the hat. McCarthy got the idea after reading a study that found that people who were forced to smile found reading material to be funnier than people who were forced to frown while reading the same material. McCarthy’s hope is that seeing someone smile will trigger mirror neurons in your own brain, causing you to unconsciously smile yourself.
McCarthy acknowledges that right now it’s more of an art project than an everyday use accessory. But she is working on it, and plans to refine the hat by measuring how much a person smiles in a day and modifying the hat to prick you if you don’t smile for long periods of time.