EEG Control Panel ca 1970How are you feeling today? Focused on your work? Getting through everything you need to?

Or are you thinking about the weekend?

Or the fact that you haven’t got your taxes done?

Or what you’re going to eat tonight?

Or maybe you’re just feeling grumpy about something that hasn’t gone quite the way you wanted After all, there’s a fair bit of life that doesn’t go as planned, and it’s not your fault, is it?

Of course the self-help gurus will tell you that you have chosen to be where you are today. And I can’t think of anything to say to that, because it’s rubbish, and as a statement, it makes me so mad I might have to be rude.

We can’t control the universe, stuff happens. Illness. Catastrophe. Death.

So if you have problems finding the motivation to work on your great escape from the 9-5, if you find your adventure in the land of ecommerce is not quite going as planned, then it’s probably just because life’s like that. And you have a life, so you can’t always be focused on your webstore. Right?

So what are you doing exactly?

Here’s what I’ve done today. I’ve written two articles, made a list of the next few that I have to write and I’ve commented on five websites. I’d have got through a lot more, but half way through the commenting I saw an advert on one site that looked like the sort of table I’m looking for, so I stopped and looked through the site. I got distracted. Does that ever happen to you? And then what was worse, I started to feel really angry with myself for being distracted and that lead to a feeling of helplessness. How can I succeed when I can't stay focused?

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That was the turning point, because the one thing I know I can control, if I want to, is the way I feel. Whatever happens, no-one can make me feel anything I don’t want to, and the same is true for you. So don’t be distracted. Be determined.

The most amazing thing about taking charge of the way you feel is that it’s a lot easier than you think, largely because the body is an amazing machine. There’s a very simple technique you can use to set yourself on a positive path, you can produce positive emotions at will by doing something very simple; all you have to do is smile.

Scientific research has shown that it is possible to ‘see’ speicifc emotions in the way they activate the hemispheres of the brain as shown by an electroencephalograph (EEG) Positive emotions, for example are asscociated with the activiation of the left side front portion of the brain, and recent studies have shown that this happens when you smile, which you’d expect. After all, we smile when we enjoy something or we’re having fun. But the research went further.

As we all know, there are smiles and smiles. The genuine smile is one which has the ‘Duchenne marker’ named for the French neurologist G.B. Duchenne who first identified it. There are two major factors involved, the mouth and the eyes. It's quite possible to smile with the mouth only, but we all know the value of a smile which doesn’t reach the eyes. It’s a smile in name only.

So we shouldn’t be surprised to find that Dr Paul Eckman (TV fans may recognised the name – his research is the basis for ‘Lie to Me’) has proved the point, and this is important, that while we experience the smile and the emotion at the same time, the smile can produce the emotion. In a study where participants were ‘posed’ in the right smile (not as a result of any emotional stimulus) their EEG indicated that they experienced the same positive emotion.

What’s even more interesting is that the smile makes people react to you differently. As the experiment took place, observers were asked to rate the participants for certain personality traits. Those with a genuine smile were rated as more pleasant, outgoing and likeable, sincere, genuine and honest.

So there you are. You’re not alone. We all fight distraction -it's the plague of the internet age. The real problem is the demotivation which results, and that we can fight.

So recognise that you get distracted. Set a limit on it. Promise yourself to get back to work at a certain time, set an alarm and stick to it. And when you get that feeling that you’ll never succeed, that it’s all going nowhere, relax. Try again.

And don’t forget to smile.

Note: I’ll try to get this posted, but I do need to do some shopping right now …

How about you?


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