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What is the chain of causation between behaviour and emotion? Common sense suggests that you feel happy and this makes you smile. However, the body of evidence is growing that the opposite is also true: you smile and this makes you feel happy. Try it out!

cheese please

In yesterday’s post I told you that I invited people to take a chop stick in their mouth… Why? Because this makes you smile. And if you smile, this causes a shift in your body.

Smiling has a measurable effect on your mindbody well-being. The notion of behaviour causing emotion was put by the philosopher and psychologist William James (1842 – 1910) as: “If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.”

The As If Principle

You’ve certainly heard the proverb “Fake it until you make it.” The attitude of ‘Doing something as if you already were ‘there’ is a highly effective technique that is used in professional coaching and brief solution therapy. I’ve used this approach in my fist post of this 30 day challenge: Spread love, be bold, have fun – take that first step by asking: “What if you knew the answer?”

rip-it-upIf you’re interested in this “As if principle” I highly recommend you to read the book Rip it Up by Richard Wiseman, Professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology, at the University of Hertfordshire.

You find in it a summary and the history of behaviourist research and theory as well as exercises like the one further down.

Mind and body

I’ve always been fascinated about the interaction of the mind and the body. If you watch your thoughts and cultivate a calm mind this will in return have an effect on your awareness of your speech and bodily actions. I learned more about it when I studied Shiatsu and Chinese Medicine (1995 – 1998) and in more depth again during my training as a professional coach (2007 – 2009).

In Chinese medicine (contrary to Western medicine) you have a body with a meridian system (this is a kind of energy pathways). Your psycho-physical health/illness is the outcome of a balance/imbalance of the energy flow (Chi in Chinese or Qi in Japanese). You cannot separate emotions from physical phenomenon, they are interdependent.

That’s why, if you feel sad or stressed and want to feel happy, what you can do ANYTIME is smiling!

YOUR TURN NOW (Exercise from ‘Rip it up’)

  1. Sit in front of a mirror.
  2. Relax the muscles in your forehead and cheeks, and let your mouth drop slightly open (= neutral position)
  3. Contract the muscles near the corners of your mouth by drawing them back towards your ears. Make the resulting smile as wide as possible, and try to ensure that the movement of the cheeks produces wrinkling around the base of your eyes. Finally, extend your eyebrow muscles slightly upward, and hold the resulting expression for about twenty seconds.
  4. Let the expression drop from your face and think about how you feel.

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PS: this post is part of a 30 day blogging challenge.



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