Why You Should Turn a Frown Upside Down

smileIt seems like it’s unanimous. From the ancient Taoists to modern science, it’s agreed that smiling can make you happier and more resilient.

So I was listening to an audio book about Taoist practices the other day and they quoted a study that was done that had people who were depressed spend half an hour a day smiling at themselves in the mirror. Apparently, there were quite significant improvements in mood – people rating themselves as far less depressed than before the smiling.

I googled and googled and couldn’t find the study so I can’t confirm or disconfirm this particular one. But I did find lots of other studies that support this idea and then some.

So let’s what science says about how smiling improves your mood.

  1. Turning the frown upside down. One study injected depressed people with botox (no more frowning) and a control group with saline (much frowning going on). More than half the botox group reported reductions in depression compared to 15% of the frowny group. I’m not sure if I’m ready to recommend botox but I do think you could adjust your body posture to emulate confidence and openness. And smile more of course.
  2. Smiling chopsticks. This study had people make smiles by using chopsticks to turn up the corners of their mouths, or by smiling naturally, or by no smile at all. They did a neutral expression, a half smile, and a full ear-to-ear grin followed by a series of stressful tasks. The true smilers reported lower heart rates and less stress (especially the ear-to-ear grinners), the chopstick smilers reported more contentment and less stress and the non-smilers were pretty unhappy and stressed. Here’s the good news – even if you can’t be a true smiler, a fake smile still has positive benefits. So even if you’re down in the dumps it will help to fake it til you make it.
  3. A smile, whether it’s genuine or not, can trigger happy memories of the past. We’re one big feedback loop. Happy memories will generate happy feelings.The more happy feelings you have the more happy feelings you have. If you have to fake a smile to get this happening, then I say go for it.
  4. People like people who smile so you get better feedback from people around you (which makes us feel really good). If you’re feeling down you tend to not make much eye contact or smile much. This is not helpful because you then don’t get good social feedback. Practice smiling in the mirror first (apparently it works) and then do some smiling at other people. Smiles are contagious and you will feel better for seeing a smile on other people’s faces.

So seriously people, if you’re feeling down, turn that frown upside down. If you need a hand there’s a Taoist meditation called “The Inner Smile”.

Tara Brach does a version (that I haven’t listened to yet but Tara is awesome. Here’s the link https://www.tarabrach.com/smile-guided-meditation/

Feel happy xx

Move Over New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s Something that Works

Which Intention?I love to steal good ideas from people. Unfortunately my integrity stops me from claiming them as my own or you would all think I’m brilliant by now.

This particular idea came hot on the heels of talk about New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not sure if you’ve read my previous blogs on New Year’s Resolutions but the research behind them basically say they’re rubbish and you shouldn’t bother making them. There’s only a very small chance that you will stick to them and when you don’t you’re probably going to feel like a failure. So….completely pointless.

An intention on the other hand could be something entirely different. (Not sure about the research on these but based on a sample of one, they seem to be pretty effective).

This is how it goes. I set an intention of say “Courage” (yes this is me completely stealing the idea – even using the same intention).

I get myself a “Courage” jar. I try to choose the courageous option for the entirety of the year and each time I do, I write it down and put it in the jar. If i find myself thinking the jar is looking a bit empty, I do something else courageous so I can add to it. This is very rewarding which is what keeps us going when doing something new.

If I set an intention of say “Equanimity” (that’s a fancy way of saying emotional balance), I might wake up a bit snarly, remind myself of my “Equanimity” intention and focus on the things to be grateful for or do some nice self-soothing thing (meditate, exercise, breathe). Not only do I feel better but I also get to put something in the jar which will give me a sense of achievement.

This makes me want to do it again.

So it’s win win.

You could even post your intention around the house so you’re always reminded of it. A visual representation is always helpful to jog your memory and absorb the new behaviour into your subconscious mind.

You might even do a vision board about your intention so you can have some more symbolic cues. Pretty things are also quite pleasing to your brain and it will be more happy to be on board with your intention.

If you decide to set an intention, let me know what it is.

I’m glad I wrote this. It has me thinking about mine.

A Free Personality Test for You

Psychology TestThere’s a personality test that is HUGELY famous in the psychology world. It’s based on the Five Factor Personality Model (nicknamed The Big 5).

Who doesn’t love finding out more about themselves? And who doesn’t love having an explanation of their character spat out at the end of a series of questions? And that’s just what this test does.

What you will find out is where you lie on these 5 dimensions:
See if you can guess what you’re strongest on before you take the test.

If you’re high on Openness to Experience you will be imaginative, insightful, have a wide variety of interests, curious and creative. If you’re low you probably prefer routine and sticking to what you know.

If you’re high on Conscientiousness you will be self-disciplined, hard working, reliable and resourceful. If you’re low you’re probably a procrastinator and impulsive.

If you’re high on Extraversion you will be sociable, energetic, fun-loving and talkative. If you’re low you’re probably introspective, reserved and thoughtful.

If you’re high on Agreeableness you will be kind, loyal, sensitive, and considerate. If you’re low you’re probably callous and sarcastic.

If you’re high on Neuroticism you will be moody, self-critical and insecure. If you’re low you’re probably confident, brave and adventurous.

So now it’s time to take the test. See if you have any surprises.
https://www.truity.com/test/big-five-personality-test

It’s a nice idea to give your details because this website is probably using it for research. The laws now say that you can unsubscribe from anything that you sign up for so if you do get emails every now and then that you don’t want you can opt out easily.

Happy Test Taking

Are You Affected by Relentless Stress?

stress headSo here we are, in a world with a million time saving devices and we’re more time poor than ever. We’re constantly rushing around trying to get everything done and never seeming to do it.

There are new syndromes popping up all over the place “rushing woman’s syndrome”(which apart from the menstrual imbalances, could probably apply to rushing men too), adrenal fatigue, and mental load (the mental drain that comes from having to be on top of remembering and organising all the little things).

A quarter of Australians are sleep deprived. Three quarters of us say stress negatively impacts our lives.

WTF!

That is tooooo much stress for tooooo many people for way toooo long.

We seriously need to kick the stress habit.

Ok. I know there are some things that are unavoidable. I see plenty of people that have one thing happen after another. Not much you can do to change those things. But we can try to change what we can.

Are you suffering from relentless stress? Maybe you need to drop the relentless standards. You know the ones that say you should be the perfect person and have all your shit together and live in a model home where you could eat off the floor and never be tired and never be cranky and never look like something the cat dragged in.

I can guarantee you I have days where I’m a feral, tired, cranky cow walking over food that was left from preparing last night’s dinner (I would definitely NOT eat that off the floor) with lank hair and panda eyes from the make-up I couldn’t be bothered taking off last night.

Nobody is perfect! Often.

Want to stop the relentless stress? Maybe stop the relentless pushing. I have a hard time with this one sometimes. Let’s face it, there is a lot to do. And sometimes if you don’t do it, it actually doesn’t get done. But…..ask yourself this question…what is your life worth?

Is it worth staying up til all hours making sure ALL the washing is done and folded and ironed? Can it wait if you’re really tired? So what if the whites aren’t done. Wear black for the rest of the week. It’s harder to see the stains anyway. Win. Win.

Is it worth staying back at work to finish that thing so you don’t have the unfinished thing hanging over your head? Wouldn’t it be better to learn to let it go and spend some time with your family, your friends or yourself and come back to work feeling refreshed rather than depleted?

So you get the point. Or let me spell the point out so you don’t have to use any mental load on thinking about it.

We need to start treating ourselves as a priority.

As number one.

As a human being who has human limitations.

As someone who deserves to feel stress-free and happy.

So do it 🙂