It happens to me all the time: in the supermarket, the theater, the wedding I attended last weekend. People learn that I’m a trainer and ask “What’s the one (best) exercise for…” It amazes me, really. People don’t ask me “How long should I work out?” or “How many calories should I consume if …” Instead they ask for the ONE quick fix that will transform them.
I actually DO have the one exercise will change your life. Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m always rambling on about our capacity to change Now. At any moment – you can change your Now, and make it better than it was just 3 minutes ago. This is a pretty powerful concept – don’t you think? Life-changing.
Ok – so the magic exercise. Your facial muscles are typically the first muscles that other people see when they look at you; these muscles are controlled by the facial nerve, emerging directly from your skull. This nerve, these muscles, are amongst the closest your your (thinking) brain. These muscles allow your facial features to lift, lower and twist (just like your core!) Making a facial expression is a method of communicating an emotional state at any given moment, typically with other people. The expression you create is essentially a ping-pong game with your brain; as you feel/interpret/express pain, sadness, anger, or… joy.
So (are you ready?) here’s the life-changing exercise. If you hurt, or feel sad or angry, if you’re depressed, annoyed or anxious, if you just want to enhance your Now by the tiniest bit: smile. Yes, smile. Begin with one set of 8 reps. A solid progression would lead you to two sets each day. Ultimately, 3-4 sets each day, 10 reps each set.
So – I challenged my best friend to a set of 8. She couldn’t do the exercise!! In fact, she only made it to 4 before she started laughing. The second set she only made it to 3. Good luck.
The toughest part? People are not apt to smile when they are feeling down, angry or anxious. You’ve got to tap into your self-control. You’ve got to use your willPower.
Some research suggests that it takes more muscles (thereby more energy) to frown than it does to smile. So, you may need to cut back on calories if you choose to smile more often. One less tic-tac should do the trick.