Monkey See, Monkey Do: If you are happy, the world will be too

“Monkey see, monkey do,” is an american expression referring to the learning process that does not require any understanding of how and why it works. Shortly, the imitation process. We simply reproduce what someone else is doing, either being aware or unaware of situation.

Imitation and the power of happiness

We humans are a social species, and our survival, happiness, and success depends on our ability to understand others’ actions and intentions.

But how is it possible to translate emotions, actions and intentions of others and attribute meaning? Most of the times these processes are taken for granted.

Let us imagine a person sitting at a table with a cup of coffee and a mobile phone. The person receives a text message and starts texting back while smiling. Our visual system not only tell us that the person intention in grabbing a cup of coffee is to drink, but also that the content of the message received produces a change in that person’s behavior: the person is smiling!

Brain imaging experiments have shown us that a major role in understanding emotions, actions and others’ intentions is played by the mirror neuron system.

Mirror neurons are a particular type of neurons that activates both when a person performs and observes an action. The mirror neurons were first discovered in the early 1990s in the monkey brain by Dr.Rizzolatti, an Italian Neurophysiologist. He observed that the same brain areas became active both when the monkey performs object-direct actions such as grasping, holding, tearing, and when the monkey observes somebody else performing the same action.

The same experiments were later done with the human brain. The results showed that our brain, mirror neurons play a more complex role: understanding action, intention, and causing empathy and imitation.

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From observation to imitation

In dynamic social interactions, the perception of someone’s facial expressions can induce a “contagious” or similar experience in the observer. We tend to smile back to those that smile to use. However, this type of imitation doesn’t only activate facial expression. Facial mimicry experiments show that there is direct connection between facial expression of emotion, and internal experience of that emotion. Our face conveys abundant information communicating internal emotional states.

Studies using functional brain imaging such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) support the idea that adopting a positive facial expression can engage others’ feelings corresponding to that emotion.

As you think, so you attract

Back in 1890, William James developed an account of “Ideomotor action

The ideomotor action occurs when we have the tendency to do what we are thinking. James adds: “Try to feel as if you were crooking your little finger, whilst keeping it straight. In a minute it will fairly tingle with the imaginary change of position; yet it will not sensibly move, because it’s not really moving is also a part of what you have in mind. Drop this idea, think of the movement purely and simply, with all brakes off, and presto! it takes place with no effort at all.”

If we are capable of controlling our thoughts, there is no limit to what we can actually do. The important aspect of this point is learning how to handle positive thinking and positive emotions.

Positive emotions facilitate social interactions, increase liking (not only on Facebook!) and gets people closer to each other.

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Defining happiness becomes more personal and relates to each individual’s experience and knowledge. However, a common ground that we all might share is defining happiness by referring to those positive emotions and experiences that we encounter while we perform an action, or thinking of a situation, in our lives. How do you that? You may have a difficulty coping with life, because life is not always fun–problems can always arise. It’s how we choose to cope with our difficulties that generate and engage the emotions and feelings we experience. If we can master our negative emotions, new opportunities will arise.

The power of happiness comes from delivering one unified message: be positive and create a positive environment around you.

A very inspiring and motivational book Happy Hour is 9 to 5 by Alexander Kjerulf offers great tips and tricks on how to achieve happiness at work. “The happier you are, the more successful you will be,” supports the idea that a happy attitude at work not only generates more drive and motivation, better relationships with co-workers, more creativity, but also more benefits for company as well. Happy employees yield better performance, higher profits, and higher customer satisfaction.

Being happy is something we should all strive to achieve daily. It creates success not only in the working environment, but also in every relationship we engage. Being happy is something we learn from each other and something that comes from our inner thinking. A happy culture can be created and anchored in any society and relationship. In time it, this mentality becomes a habit.

It is all about controlling our thinking, experiencing positive emotions and communicating them to others.  Seeing happiness as a contagious behavior, we will harmonize with others’ mindsets, and together we can achieve extraordinary performance, health and inner satisfaction.

So let’s be happy, and the world will be happy too!

Images from: Here, here, and here

Nicoleta Sirbu

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