The reality of your growing responsibilities can take its toll on you, and the stress can not only affect your health but decrease your productivity, and certainly the joy you get out of life.
What if you could feel better emotionally and physically, AND increase your productivity – all beginning with a simple smile? It’s a fact; smiling changes your brain chemistry. And, feelings of happiness have an even greater impact on the brain chemistry. We know that happy people are healthier than unhappy people and that an improved mood will also lead to an ability to think and act more quickly.
Think of your brain as a brilliant chemist; more than 100,000 chemical reactions go on in your brain every second! When the brain produces the neurotransmitter known as serotonin, tension is eased. When it produces dopamine or norepinephrine, you are increasingly able to focus and take action, resulting in higher levels of productivity! We also know that changing our physiology releases these “feel good drugs”, affecting our mood and energy almost instantly. The trick is to disrupt the current, negative body language (frowning, slumping, clenching of the jaw, shoulders up to the ears) and replace it with positive, empowering, joyful actions. Simple things like acting silly, laughing, reciting affirmations and doing a little dance can change your state immediately.
But it’s not always easy to convince yourself to step away from the stress and do a little jig to release happy hormones from your brain. It takes discipline and lots of previous, positive experience with a process to make it a habit. So let’s start small.
The other day during a grueling seven-hour car ride with two rambunctious dogs in the back of the car, I found myself feeling the stress of fatigue, impatience and boredom. So I decided to take a little of my own medicine and practice the things I preach! “I’m on the road,” I thought, “so my options are fairly limited. How can I shift this negative state?” And then, as if the Universe was offering a gentle reminder, Riley, my silly Weimaraner, yawned with an outrageously funny expression of his own boredom. The sound was remarkably human and not one I’d heard before; it made me laugh so hard that it brought tears to my eyes. Instantly, I had more energy. I felt more optimistic about the day ahead and I was even reminded of an audio book that I had brought along and would surely cure my boredom. One little laugh and my problems were solved!
Since then, I’ve been practicing the power of just a simple smile. It really works! I remind myself throughout the day to “turn my frown upside down”. When you put a smile on your face, all of the muscles on your face respond. Your eyes brighten, facial muscles loosen and the brow becomes smooth and relaxed. Even your thoughts may change. When I smile, I actually find myself searching for the little, happy thoughts that brighten my day.
So why wait for your external environment to dictate a smile? Turn it around! Put a smile on your face and produce positive results. Once you experience the benefits, take the next steps. Remember, the goal is to break your current, negative state by disrupting it with something that will “shock” your internal chemist into action. Here are a few things you can do:
- Step away from your stressful environment for a 20-minute walk. You will more than make up for the time with your increased productivity levels when you return.
- Put on some great dance music and have a little 5-minute party! That’s right, just dance. You don’t even need a partner!
- Find a favorite funny video on YouTube and take a laughter break.
- Pace around the room reciting empowering affirmations in a positive, confident tone of voice and great posture.
- Sing to your animals or children – just be silly and let them in on the fun!
- Do a series of jumping jacks with a big smile on your face.
- Pick up the phone and cheer up someone’s day with an “I love you”!
- Just let out a simple “woo-hoo!” and think about a goal or future event that really charges you up.
- Think of one or two things that you are deeply grateful for and allow the thoughts to bring a smile of gratitude to your face. (You should do this several times a day anyway!)
Enjoy the results and, remember, let us know how you do!
Marla Tabaka is a life & business coach who inspires entrepreneurs around the world to attain what she calls, The Million-Dollar Mindset. As a result, many of her clients have achieved – even surpassed – the million dollar mark in annual revenues and are living the life of their dreams. In addition to running a thriving practice, Marla is a columnist for Inc. Magazine on-line, and hosts two international on-line radio shows, The Million Dollar Mindset and Million Dollar Mindset Tapping. Marla wrote this feature article exclusively for Debbie May.com (http://www.debbiemay.com/), an organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed.