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Laughing and Smiling – More Powerful than You Know!

February 17, 2016

 

 

A laugh or a smile is bound to make you feel good – even if it’s not entirely genuine.1 It could actually make your job more pleasant, too. That’s important, especially since a 142-country Washington Post/Gallup survey2 found that an international average of only 13% of employees are "engaged" in their jobs, emotionally invested in their work, and focused on helping their organizations improve. The “engaged” figure was highest in the US and Canada at 29%, but wherever you are, there’s plenty of room to feel better at work.

 
If you’re among the “disengaged” or just want to get through the occasional bad day at work, how could a less-than-authentic laugh or smile actually elevate your mood? You might be surprised to learn that your body doesn’t really know the difference.

Laughing stimulates production of endorphins – the “feel good” hormones that can improve our mood, reduce stress, and offset pain. With each laugh and resulting release of endorphins, the stress hormone cortisol is modulated. Cortisol levels increase when we feel stressed or anxious and contribute to the unpleasant feeling we experience during those times, so decreasing cortisol levels can reduce these negative feelings.

When you laugh, you also tend to smile, which is an enthusiasm-builder that draws people to you.  “In a number of studies of college students, customer service reps, and surgical recovery patients, increasing the frequency and duration of their laughing and smiling resulted in those around them feeling less distressed and more energized.”3

The brain doesn’t differentiate between real and fake smiles since it interprets the positioning of the facial muscles involved in smiling in the same way – genuine or not. This is known as the facial feedback hypothesis, which holds that facial movement can influence emotional experience. For example, an individual who is forced to smile during a social event will actually come to find the event more of an enjoyable experience.4
 
How can this help us at work? The better we feel and care about ourselves, the happier we will be. Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence explains “Good moods, while they last, enhance the ability to think flexibly and with more complexity, thus making it easier to find solutions to problems, whether intellectual or interpersonal.”

Bottom line? The Cheshire Cat had the right idea!

If you’re in the “disengaged” category, a smile or a laugh really can make a difference in how you see your work and how your colleagues see you. One chuckle at a time can help – tell yourself a joke! Helping people develop strategies to transform a tough day into a day worth smiling about is one of the many ways an executive/life coach can add value to your work life. If you feel you’re not engaged at work and would like to narrow the gap between where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow, consider coaching.

1 http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/laughter.htm.

2 http://www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx and https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2013/10/10/only-13-percent-of-people-worldwide-actually-like-going-to-work/.

3 http://www.danielgoleman.info/topics/emotional-intelligence/

4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotion. 

 

For more information please visit our website at www.Bill-Hooker.com and take advantage of our no-obligation, free, coaching session with a certified ICF (International Coach Federation) Coaching professional.

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