Early morning (or so I though) I took the tube. It was 6.00am but the trains were packed as always. Half-asleep but mostly very sad faces all moved from side to side in the rhythm of the shaking wagon. Looking at their eyes and body language you would think that each one of those individuals just lost at least one member of their family as well as their pet.
Tortured, exhausted, stressed and lovingly spreading the vibe <3 those people and these circumstances constitute MY environment. YOUR environement. The environment of thousands and thousands of people all over the world and it affects us often negatively! In fact, it affects us by influencing our moods, levels of motivation, views on life, expectations, belief in possibilities and opportunities. It even determines whether or not today we are likely to be creative or not.
Fortunately, the reason for the grim faces is not necessarily anything bad that happened in people’s lives. Most of them, believe it or not, probably even have good ones. After all they have a job for which they woke up early, someone they support, maybe even a pet which most likely didn’t die this morning. However, the NORM ‘requires’ the adoption of a particular look! And this, almost innocent act to which we don’t pay conscious attention, determines the quality of our experiences each day!
Biologists, neurologists and psychologists have proved the link between body and facial expressions and the way our minds operate and hormones change. In simple words – the way we use our bodies and our faces determines how we feel and think!
The Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy performed an experiment that clearly evidenced how adopting a particular expression or posture for only 2min changes our biochemistry automatically. Testosterone (hormone associated with confidence and risk tolerance) and Cortisol (hormone associated with stress) start to adjust based on the signals we give our brains. What that means is that by the time you reach your destination you would have inevitably robbed yourself from the opportunity to realize your potential fully. You set in motion internal mechanisms which are far from the best you can do for yourself.
Due to our instinct and wish to fit in and get along with others we naturally imitate patterns such as shrinking, adopting a grim face, slouching, choosing particular vocabulary or activities that others are also doing. We even unconsciously start breathing in the same tempo and with the same depth like those around us.
The result is straightforward - lowered levels of motivation, inspiration and commitment to positive action. Increased levels of stress and anxiety experienced often by 7-8am.
The question is - is that the sort of routine and life you’d really like to have on a daily basis? I hope not!
You can conquer the city environment by adopting new habits! Even though the challenge of overcoming significant peer pressure is big you can deal with it successfully with the below 4 ways and come up with more of your own later. It is possible and necessary as the alternative is to let your city environment consistently drag you down.
Let's get to it:
1. Adopt physiology that sends the right messages to your brain Chin up, eyes up, deep breathing, smile on your face, no slouching! Sitting or standing you can do it. Expand a little by having your shoulders back and your hands and legs uncrossed. Simple yet extremely powerful way of affecting your biochemistry. Keep it for as long as you can. "Fake it until you become it" is the advice of Amy Cuddy. Mine is - TRY! You can always go back to your habitual body posture if you see no positive results.
2. Create your own internal environment and put the external factors at the back seat. How? Imagine that you are looking at yourself from outside and you see yourself confident, happy, calm and productive. You are at a great location where the sounds and the colours are beautiful, warm, and bright. Arrange every detail of that mental image exactly the way you like it. Spend some time enjoying this. When you are ready step into your own body and now feel the feelings of confidence, calmness and productivity. Look at the surrounding and touch some of the objects around you which also feels amazing! Now see your current tough daily environement on a movie screen. On the right bottom corner place a little version of the first image. On the count of 3 make the little image huge and replace the old one. Repeat this 10 times. Explosive overwriting of the first. That's all. I don’t really care if this sounds or feels silly to you. Create this in your head once and re-call it anytime you feel the external environment isn't supporting you. It will start happening automatically and will get you in the right state.
3. Stop making excuses and indulging yourself in perceived business, stress or any other ‘fancy’ modern state. It takes the same amount of effort to feel negative as it takes to feel positive. You need to understand and acknowledge that. Giving in to non-beneficial states is something most of us have practiced a little longer so it seems easier. The reality is – it is all and only a behavioural habit and you can adopt new ones if you decide to. Our states are just choices and you would be pleased to take responsibility for yours.
4. Listen to music that inspires you to smile, dream and feel good. This is one of the quickest ways to influence your state. Carefully choose your playlist and do not stick only to songs you like. The aim here is to pick the ones which truly trigger the feelings you need. You might like songs which are beautiful but don’t help you so be mindful of that. You have a goal. Achieve it.
Enjoy the wonderful results you will produce and Share the awareness with others!