There is one habit I wanted to talk to you about that is very easy to start and can have a profound impact on your ability to perform at your peak. It’s the action of simply lifting the outer corners of your mouth up very slightly so that you are, in effect, creating a smile. It sounds so simple, but we often forget how powerful smiling is. The science of smiling and how it affects our state of mind has been studied over the years with interesting results.
Charles Darwin and William James first noted more than a century ago how emotions are produced by putting on a sad face or a smile. Later, Dr. Robert Zajonc, a psychologist at the University of Michigan did some of the more pioneering studies on how the muscles in facial expression can affect mood, actually noting how facial action leads to changes in mood. The central idea in his work is that as facial muscles relax and tighten they raise or lower the temperature of the blood flowing to the brain. These temperatures changes, in turn, influence brain activity which regulates our emotions, and therefore, our state of the mind.
Altering facial expression by beginning to smile can create positive changes in mood. Tweet this
Film stars also knew a thing or two about how to project themselves more powerfully by letting go of anxiety and being completely relaxed. If you want to learn what Marlene Dietrich did before having an audition, take a look at our previous post.
The Mind/Body Connection: A Two-Way Street
It often requires some self examination to understand how the state of your body may be further reinforcing the emotions you’re feeling and the way in which others perceive you. The following list contains examples of how the state of your body can affect your overall mood:
- When you lie down with your feet propped up, your mind begins to get sleepy.
- If you’re sitting in a slouched position, your aura of confidence will be lower.
- If you’re speaking in a low or monotone voice, you may be feeling sad.
- If your breathing is short and shallow, your anxiety level may be high.
A simple and pragmatic habit to work on is relaxing your body as you go through the day, and a better mood will naturally follow. Straighten your posture. Lift your chin. Take a few long and deep breaths, expanding your lungs fully. Then practice your Mona Lisa smile. Lift the outer corners of your mouth up in a way that feels comfortable and hold this for several seconds. Then shift your attention inward and become aware of your current state of mind. Is it becoming more relaxed and positive? Give it a try, and see what you find out.
Image: Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci – Musée du Louvre, Paris[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]