Smile or laugh.
Yes, it’s that easy. It works on the physiological, chemical and emotional levels. And, it works when you’re dancing or skating – as well as in real life.
This photo-merge image you see here is really two screen-captures from a video my mom recorded while she and I were volunteering with Trash Trackers on Lake Powell, USA, 2013.
I wasn’t in a bad mood in the scowling photo; it’s just that I live in Oregon where it tends to be cloudy and the Arizona/Utah sun on Lake Powell is very, very bright. I scowled and squinted to block out the sun.
Once I realized I was caught on camera, you bet I put on a smile!
I don’t like being caught not smiling – no matter what the reason. I look older, not to mention unapproachable and downright surly.
Here’s the kicker: not only do we all LOOK better when smiling, but we FEEL better also.
For every thought you have - joyous, angry, self-defeating or empowering - your brain produces a chemical to make you feel like your thought.
Thoughts are nothing but electrical impulses. Like a lighting bolt, only much faster and shorter in duration.
For each thought we have, the brain releases a chemical to make our bodies FEEL the way we were thinking. And then "we feel the way we think and think the way we feel" as Dr. Joe Dispenza says. It's a vicious cycle if you routinely think and feel things that are not good.
In other words,
Your brain produces chemicals to "validate" your thoughts.
I'll give you a few examples of how this works for ballroom dancing and figure skating performances.
Dance / Skate example 1:
Your routine is a tango or a Paso Doble. The music and the body posturing are strong and dramatic. You don't tend to smile while dancing or skating that type of routine, do you? No. You keep a powerful, focused face because that's what suits the music. You try to keep your body movement and facial expressions congruent with the mood of the music.
But it doesn't stop there. Because you think about being powerful and commanding, your body actually becomes more of those things. Your brain releases the chemicals your body needs to make your movements become crisper and more defined.
Dance / Skate example 2:
By contrast, if you're performing a waltz, a foxtrot, or a solo piece to a lively piece of music, you want to smile and look like you're having a good time. You try to look light, happy, euphoric - like all those steps are easy, fun to do and that your shoes or boots are actually comfortable.
As a result of all your "happy" thoughts, your brain produces chemicals to suit that state of happiness. Your body releases endorphins (so you get that "Runner's High"), your blood pressure and possibly even inflammation reduces. Overall your body moves and feels better.
Think back to your best performances.
Were you "in the zone" and everything seemed to go better than normal?
And when you left the floor or the rink, had you temporarily forgotten about all the aches and pains that usually live in your body?
I'll bet the answers are YES. Your thoughts were congruent with what you wanted to perform and your brain responded with the chemicals your body needed to make it all happen.... It's a thing of wonder.
So you don't want to smile (or be stern) just because your coaches says to "get in the mood of the music". You want to do it because you will perform better - and now you know why.
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But for those of you who aren't dancers or skaters, here are two real-world examples.
Real world example 1: negative emotions
Let's say someone at work upset you or hurt your feelings. As you drive to work the next day, you begin dreading seeing that person again because you're still angry and hurt. The more you think about it, the angrier you feel. Your brain says, "I'm delighted to confirm those hurt emotions," and it sends out chemicals telling your body be on high alert.
As a result, your heart begins to race. Your blood pressure increases. Your hands may get sweaty. Your muscles tense. You scowl and grip the steering wheel way too tightly. By the time you get to work, you're a raving lunatic having relived the entire experience from yesterday! You need a massage and two aspirin before your day has even begun.
Real world example 2: positive emotions
You're with someone you love - a spouse, a child or a pet - or you're doing one of your favorite activities. The kind of activities or moments that makes you lose track of time because you are completely immersed in what you're doing.
You're in a happy place. You think about little except how pleasurable the experience is. As a result, your brain releases chemicals to make your body feel the way you were thinking: content, joyous, free, unlimited. Your aches and pains seem to reduce, perhaps even disappear.
Science has proven that if we could live in this state of love-based emotions more often we would:
- lose weight,
- look younger because the aging progress slows considerably,
- and many (if not all) diseases would never settle into our body.
- If it were tested, it would also say we'd skate and dance better too 🙂
So in closing, I hope you've taken away a few great reasons why you should spend more time smiling and being aware of how your thoughts affect your body, your surroundings, as well as your dance and skate performances.
Are you happy with the emotions you experience every day? If not, check out Dr. Joe Dispenza's video on Five Steps to Change Your Life.
As always, thanks for joining me!
I look forward to hearing about a time when YOU were "in the zone" and your performance was nearly perfect.
Please leave a comment below ... and share this with a dancing, skating friend.From Teresa Sigmon, Founder and Designer of Seams Sensational Creator of the Sew Like A Pro™ training series