Nov 30, 2017

The Expression on Your Face Makes a Difference in Your Business

“Stone-Face”, “Stern-Face”, “Angry-Face”, “Happy-Face”, “Smiley Face”

“Half-Hearted”, “Aching Heart”, “Bleeding Heart”, “Courageous heart”

“Strong stomach”, “Butterflies in their stomach”, “Sick to your stomach”, “In the pit pf your stomach”

These are expressions we use almost daily and without any thought as to the true effect they have on us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. To give you an idea of the power they hold, new sciences have developed around their study, including Neurocardiology and Neurogastroenterology. You see, researchers have discovered that the heart holds about 40,000 neurons and the stomach about 100,000 neurons. Columbia University Medical Center even calls the stomach the “second brain”, although falling far short of the 100 billion neurons in the brain. Researchers also tells us that these neurons have no input on the conscious level, only at the unconscious level. This is why, like the expressions above, we refer to the information as a gut “feeling” or a “feeling” from the heart.

How does this translate into business? Employee Engagement? Culture? Increased job performance, and all other aspects?

Ask yourself, under what circumstances do people perform at their highest level? Under constant stress? Or, under an ongoing sense of safety? Here’s what science is discovering about how our Mind-Body connection works:

Eight out of 12 of the Cranial Nerves are used for creating the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), or Survival Mode, our fight-or-flight system. The other four are designed for the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), the “At-Ease” nerves. When the eight cranial nerves of the Sympathetic Nervous System are employed continuously (Hectic lives filled with adrenaline rushes from caffeine, too many deadlines, and rush-hour traffic), here’s what happens:

1) Catabolism, meaning, breaking down. This can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually
2) Raising of Cortisol, which leads to
Severe fatigue.
Muscle weakness.
Depression, anxiety and irritability.
Loss of emotional control.
Cognitive difficulties.
New or worsened high blood pressure.
Bone loss, leading to fractures over time.
3) Risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke
4) And, much more…

What is happening when the four Cranial Nerves related to the PNS are being activated?
1) Anabolism – constructive metabolism, a building up
2) Creativity is unleashed
3) Innovation can be tapped into
4) A sense of stability in all facets of life can be realized
5) Sustainable high performance can be achieved

Now, here’s the dilemma; With all the stress and pressure put on every level of organizations, how can leaders help their people go into the PNS? It can be as simple as a smile. The four Cranial Nerves are related to the eyes, ears/tongue/throat, facial expressions, and the Vagus Nerve, which extends from the base of the skull all the way into the gut. These Cranial Nerves are interconnected and influence each other. Here are a few examples:

1) You get that sinking feeling in your stomach and your facial expression instantly shows that feeling
2) You hear a pleasant sound and you feel your stomach relax
3) You smile and you instantly feel a sense of happiness

There have been many studies performed (Psychology Today) on how changing your facial expression impacts your being. One such study asks subjects to watch cartoons while holding a pencil in their mouth. Half of the subjects hold the pencil with the end between their lips, causing a frown. The other half hold the pencil length-ways in their mouth to cause a smile. The people holding the pencil length-ways always judge the cartoons a being much funnier than the other group. What the researchers found is that it doesn’t matter if the smile is genuine or forced, a smile changes the way people feel. This is because of the inter-connection between the mind/brain and body.

As Employee Engagement, Culture, creativity, and innovation are among some of the most discussed topics in business, consider how putting your people into an “At-Ease” state will result in much higher performance than the usual constant pressure-cooker state most organizations operate under. Remember, it may only take a smile!

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+++++++++++++++About Dr. Edward Lewellen++++++++++++++++

Dr. Edward Lewellen is an expert in creating methodologies for people to learn to use their mind; their beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors, and put them back in control of their lives and become top-producers. He is a Master Executive Coach, leadership and sales expert, and keynote speaker for some of the largest global organizations.

Author of:

Life Mastery: The Fully Functional Life

The 90-Second Mind Manager