How often do you frown? If you’re honest, the answer is, most of the time.

Mr. Dictionary says that a frown is when you furrow your brow in an expression of disapproval, displeasure or concentration.

Synonyms for the word "frown" are scowl, glower, glare or make a face. None of the above sounds very pleasant.

For some reason, I’ve noticed frowns more often when I’m out and about. The approaching driver is most often frowning. The man stopped at a four-way stop is most often frowning. Strangers at the gym, people in line for food or motorists getting gas are almost always frowning.

For a while, I wondered if it might be me that they were frowning at. But then I quickly realized that they were frowning at everyone.

Of course, back in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, every model on every magazine cover wore a smile. Now, almost every model wears a frown or a scowl.

Thus, I think you can say that we are living in the age of the frown. And why is that so? I have a theory.

You see, I believe it is all about intimidation. For some reason, we think we have to subtly intimidate most everyone one we meet.

Of course, in the animal world that kind action is referred to as threat behavior. For animals, threat behavior is any behavior that signifies hostility or intent to attack another animal. Its purpose is to cause an opponent to back down or leave. For us, it’s more about keeping people from invading our space.

Maybe that’s why we lift weights, pierce body parts and get tattoos put all over our bodies — to intimidate, apparently because we are afraid.

My grandmother was born in 1898. She was the youngest of a dozen children and, when she was around the age of 20, they took a family photo and none of them was smiling. Then again, back then, people being photographed were expected to remain motionless for about as long as it took to swim the English Channel. Thus, few probably felt like smiling.

So at least they had an excuse. We don’t.

Of course, we’ve seen some real world class “frowners,” including Adolf Hitler, who almost single-handedly destroyed the world, and Grumpy of the seven dwarfs, who set the frowning world record.

Then there is comedian Steven Wright, who, though he is hilarious, smiles but once a decade, and Boris Karloff, the horror actor who played Frankenstein. But he was paid not to smile.

Mary J. Blige, the American singer, songwriter, record producer and actress once said, “Sometimes I frown and I don't realize it.” I think we all do that.

French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain said that Americans seem sometimes to believe that if you are a thinker you must be a frowning bore, because thinking is so serious.

All I know is this: For every up there is a down, for every frown there is a smile, for every night there is a day and for every problem there is a way.

Kevin Holten is the president of the North Dakota Cowboy Association and executive producer of "Special Cowboy Moments" on RFD-TV.

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