A few years back I found myself coming home at night very stressed from dealing with some difficult times at work. My home; that supposed refuge from the storm, was always busy with lots of noisy children gleefully bouncing off the walls. Although speaking what I thought were the right words to my kids, it was not creating the right response when communicated while being stressed. In fact, it created the opposite effect. How come?
Physiologically, our bodies are composed of many different systems: circulatory systems, lymphatic systems, nervous systems, respiratory systems and so on. Did you know that the presence of another person can affect your own physiology? Mirror neurons are one of the most important discoveries in the last decade of neuroscience. Essentially, mirror neurons respond to any actions we might observe in others; actually recreating the same physiology as if it were a personal experience!
These mirror neurons help us to learn things and work better together, and even ensure the safety and future of the human race. My crying baby makes my wife and I jump up to see if he is okay. If it were not for this feature in our brain, we wouldn’t bother.
Interestingly, research in intensive care units has shown that the comforting presence of another person not only lowers the patient’s blood pressure but also slows the secretion of fatty acids that block arteries. Additionally, positive relationships can see one person transmit signals that can alter hormone levels, cardiovascular functions, sleep rhythms, even immune functions, inside the body of another. In all aspects of our social life, our physiologies intermingle.
So, what is my point? Edwin Markham said, “There is a destiny which makes us brothers; none goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.” Turns out, that little line of poetry is in fact a scientific truth!
The virtues we manifest – enthusiasm, conviction, love, serenity, courage and so on, literally influence the physiology of those around us. This reinforces the truth that you can’t fake sincerity. When our body language conflicts with our words, people will always believe our body language because emotion is contagious, and we can feel it even on a subconscious level.
Do you want to make a difference? The first step is to be the difference. It is not about what we say, but about who we are that will create the change we wish to see in our world.
As we move on from the 45th anniversary event Nikken held last week, let’s be sure to share our enthusiasm, love and commitment with others. Speak up, raise your voice, share the message and make a difference.