The British have this wonderful phrase called the “knock on effect” to describe how some chain of event or circumstance can influence later situations. Our emotional state of mind and actions similarly can have profound positive or negative knock on effects. And there is science to back up these ripple effects:
Scientists found something called mirror neurons: specialized brain cells that can actually sense and then mimic the feelings, actions, and physical sensations of another person. Let’s say a person is pricked by a needle. The neurons in the pain center of his or her brain will immediately light up, which should come as no surprise. But what is a surprise is that when that same person sees someone else receive a needle prick, this same set of neurons lights up, just as though he himself had been pricked. In other words, he actually feels a hint of the pain of a needle prick, even though he himself hasn’t been touched.
As we pass through the day, our brains are constantly processing the feelings of the people around us, taking note of the inflection in someone’s voice, the look behind their eyes, the stoop of their shoulders. In fact, the amygdala can read and identify an emotion in another person’s face within 33 milliseconds, and then just as quickly prime us to feel the same. Once people mimic the physical behaviors tied to these emotions, it causes them to feel the emotion themselves.
Smiling, for instance, tricks your brain into thinking you’re happy, so it starts producing the neurochemicals that actually do make you happy. Scientists call this the facial feedback hypothesis, and it is the basis of the recommendation “fake it till you make it.” While authentic positivity will always trump its faux counterpart, there is significant evidence that changing your behavior first — even your facial expression and posture — can dictate emotional change. *
So what does this have to do with well-being? Everything!! We are both mirroring other’s emotions and actions but can also infuse others with how we are feeling. Various estimates suggest there are nearly 1,000 people within three degrees of most of us (ignoring Facebook). We can project our positive emotions and wellness to 1,000 others and improve their lives. We can be like secondhand smoke and either bring people down or uplift their spirits.
Positive feelings will be mirrored by others and have awesome knock-on effects. Please pass them on and multiply joy and well-being.
Reflection Source: www.Smallercup.org
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*: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor