Week 7- Getting enjoyment from stress

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This week I am using a practical technique to reset my brain from stress to enjoyment. This technique works because it taps into 3 core drivers in the brain:

  1. Environmental conditions – I am designing my physical working conditions intentionally to help me feel positive and create a sense of optimism and enjoyment
  2. Mirroring – using the body language of others to reset my own body language
  3. Social connection – creating a sense of belonging and benefiting from the positivity that being connected with others brings us.

I was running a workshop on building the best environment for supporting those suffering from change fatigue when I realised that my own office was missing some simple elements that have the power to shift my mood from negative to positive.

I need to smile more, which has a powerful effect on us because when I smile, others around me smile, and my smile triggers feelings of enjoyment, which creates a virtuous circle as I smile more.

To kick-start my increase in smiling, I have used mirroring and social connection. I put up a photograph of my best friend, who is grinning at the camera, clearly delighted with life. We have a deep connection so whenever I look at the photograph, my brain is reminded I am part of a supportive, caring group which meets my psychological need for belonging (Maslow identified this in his hierarchy of needs early last century, and which has been validated by numerous neuroscience experiments since).

The photograph is a genuine smile that reaches all the way to the eyes, so whenever I look at it, my automatic reaction is to smile. This is an instinctive, visceral reaction so I am not even conscious that I have moved my mouth, but I feel a warmth, a happiness that spreads through my thoughts.

It only takes a moment to glance at the photograph and each time, it has the same effect. This switches off the build of stress chemicals in my brain every time I look over at the picture, which means that negativity doesn’t have a chance to build to dangerous levels, irrespective of the stress I am experiencing.

This is a quick reset but a powerful one. Stop reading, look at your phone, find a smiley photo of someone you care for and who cares for you and display it in your eye line.

Enjoy your week, and let me know how much more you are smiling now!