Smile, it’s free

Adam-O is a Caine-from-Kung-Fu-kind-of-guy. He practices Kung Fu. He wears Shaolin robes. He travels small-town-to-small-town solving small town problems (see: The Incredible Hulk, The Fugitive, & The A-Team for more examples). When he occasionally appears back on the grid, he is always dropping knowledge. As I approach my 35th day of consecutive Qi Kung practice, I have begun to work in some of Adam-O’s suggestions into my practice. I am introducing a regular feature here that disseminates the pearls of wisdom Adam-O occasionally drops on me…. Here we go, Grasshoppers!

Smile. Adam-O suggested that I work a smile into my Qi Kung practice. This seems simple on the surface, but the fact is while you’re concentrating on the movements of practice, it is difficult to crack a grin through a furrowed brow of concentration. Doing so allows you to have fun while practicing, instead of wasting energy trying to get every motion right.

While it might sound like some useless hippy garbage, the fact is a smile lowers the Cortisol levels (the “stress” hormone) in your blood stream, it actually normalizes blood pressure, and amazingly it also boosts your immune system increasing antibodies.

I have also begun to translate this into my day-to-day as well. Smiling outside practice can change your outlook and the outlook of those around you. In fact, a Harvard / University of California study measured how social networks were connected with reported happiness. The study showed happiness is contagious, spreading among groups of people. Five thousand people with a more than 50,000 connection network of family, friends, co-workers and others were evaluated (read more here).

Richard Wiseman, author of the Luck Factor, points out that it may also change your fortune  (read more here or download a .pdf copy here). In his psychological investigation into luck, he interviewed numerous self-proclaimed lucky & unlucky individuals and had a team of researchers review the videos on mute recording hand gestures and body language, he found:

The differences between the lucky and unlucky people were dramatic. The lucky people smiled twice as much as unlucky people and engaged in far more eye contact.

If you smile watching the clip below, remember that it may be adding years to your life, quality to those years, and helping spread joy to family & friends!

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Lucky Duck

Ben Sherwood devotes an entire chapter of his remarkable book The Survivor Club to the science of luck. In an interview with psychologist Richard Wiseman, Sherwood differentiates four characteristics that set “lucky” folk apart from “unlucky” ones. The answer has less to do with supernatural forces or superstitious objects than it does perception. “Lucky” folk seem to have a broader awareness than their “unlucky” counterparts. Wiseman’s replication of a Harvard study on inattentional blindness further illuminates this point, his four reasons for “lucky” folk appear below the clip.

First, “lucky” people are often in the “right place” at the “right time” because they have the “right frame of mind.” Stumbling into chance opportunities is more often the result of being open to possibility. You can increase your luck simply by chilling out. Calm, emotionally stable, relaxed people are more aware of what is happening around them (& opportunities that present themselves) than anxious, overwhelmed, high-stress people.

Second, “lucky” people go with their gut, while according to Wiseman, “unlucky people often ignore their intuition and regret their decision.” This rapid cognition is the same thing Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book Blink. While avoiding terms like intuition or gut instinct, Gladwell talks about the conclusions that the mind comes to in the first two seconds of encountering new information. You can increase your luck by paying closer attention to your initial reactions.

Third, “lucky” people persist in spite of failure. Sherwood writes that “lucky” people are “convinced that life’s most unpredictable events will ‘consistently work out for them,’ while, “unlucky people expect that things will always go wrong.” This ‘doom & gloom’ outlook becomes self-fulfilling. You can increase your luck by paying attention to your internal script. If you are in the ‘doom & gloom’ camp redirect your negative self-talk with positive affirmations, it can change more than just your outlook.

Fourth, lucky people have an uncanny ability to turn lemons into lemonade or as Sherwood puts it, “a special ability to turn bad luck into good fortune.” In times of misfortune, “lucky” people tap into their inner most resources to turn a potential disaster into a ‘lucky’ development. You can increase your luck by looking for opportunity in crisis.

Read more on how to make your own luck.