Have you ever noticed how certain people leave you feeling angry or frustrated or even combative? These might be people you work with, or one or more members of your family , or perhaps a politician or other person who is often in the media. Maybe it was even a written social media post that made your blood boil.
Before this person “made you” feel angry or frustrated, how were you feeling prior? Did the person in some way shift you from feeling peaceful or happy to feeling negative?
It is most likely because of mirror neurons in your brain. Mirror neurons act like little sponges & switches that first observe what someone is saying or how they are behaving, absorb that data, and then “fire”— causing you to “mirror” the other or act in the same way.
When someone “comes in hot”, speaking loudly and with an angry tone about something they are frustrated about, their energy directly influences your own mood via your brain’s mirror neurons. And that reaction also triggers the release of adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine — the trifecta of stress hormones — that get your body primed to flee or fight or freeze, and also when released regularly and daily can lead to chronic health conditions.
The good news is: positive emotions are also contagious in this same way.
You may know certain people who often (or always) make you feel good. You like to spend time around them because they lift up your spirits, turn your day around in a good way, and as a result boost the level of feel-good serotonin in your brain. It is thanks to that person – and your mirror neurons — and the release of “positive” neurotransmitters like serotonin, that your mood changes and your body produces a health-promoting chemical cocktail in your body.
Serotonin for example is critical for healthy digestion, for good quality sleep, for healthy sexual function and more.
But you already know this from your own experience: when you’re stressed and wound up, you don’t want to eat or when you do your digestion is messed up. You don’t sleep as well, and your interest in being with others diminishes — whether platonically or romantically.
Let’s step back and consider this on a macro level: how does a work environment full of positive people affect your mood and your health? Your creativity and performance?
How does a household full of negative people — or even a TV show with sensationalist negative news programming — affect you? Notice how it influences your mood, your perspective of other people, your day ahead, your prospects in life, and on and on. One negative moment can trigger a ripple effect of negative interactions in your day.
It is important to know that BOTH positivity and negativity are contagious due to how your brain functions.
And, more good news: you can strengthen your mental muscles so that you stay more in positivity and intercept the negativity so your mirror neurons don’t hijack your mood in a destructive way.
By practicing little 10 second reps to shift your brain function out of the survival brain (which is activated with the influence of negative emotions and mirror neurons) instead to activate the parts of the brain associated with empathy, creativity, and positive social engagement.
What are these little 10 seconds reps called? PQ reps. They are the core daily activities you learn to integrate into your busy, stress-filled life as part of the mental fitness course called Positive Intelligence. PQ is short-hand for “Positive Intelligence quotient” (like EQ for emotional intelligence quotient).
Try PQ Reps now:
You can learn how to strengthen your 3 core mental muscles so your mirror neurons do not hijack your mood and unintentionally lead to strain in your relationships, underperformance at work, or poor health from all the stress and anxiety. And here’s how…
The six-week Positive Intelligence course begins in September, just in time for you and your brain to go back to school! I am guiding 10 people through the course right now and spots are now open for the next “pod” (group). You will join 3-5 others moving through the program — or if you have an intact work team or family unit or friend group you can request to do the course together. More details here.
Here’s to building resilience, positivity and creativity for a better life and a better world!
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS ERIN?
As Erin and her family continue their year of nomadic life, they will be exploring different states in the U.S. and also (as restrictions lift) different countries. In August, Erin and her husband and sons will be spending time in Philadelphia, Vermont, and Maine. Then in September they will venture west to Colorado!
Missed any past newsletters? Check out our newsletter archive here.