What unprecedented and challenging times we are living in – the Covid-19 pandemic is currently in full flow and we as a country are in lockdown. We’ve all heard the voice of fear in the last few weeks and I’m sure for many of you reading this, these are going to be a difficult few months – I know it certainly is going to be for us here at Meta – so we wanted to use this month’s blog to spread a little RIPPLE of META POSITIVITY.

In times such as these, there is no blueprint, no ‘way we did it last time’, as there has never been a time like this! We have seen the worst of behaviours and we’ve seen the best of behaviours. Sure we may all have got an extra toilet roll or can of beans when they finally came back in stock, and sure we all may have got caught up a little in the fear that job and financial uncertainty can bring us – but now as the dust settles and we hunker down to our new lives in lockdown, we need to make a conscious decision about how WE are going to be moving forwards.

There’s not much we can do when we’re being told to socially isolate ourselves. We’re (rightfully) deterred from leaving our homes only in the most essential of circumstances, and yet there is ONE thing that we can all do when we do have our morning exercise, walk our dog, or take an afternoon trip to get essentials at the supermarket – we can SMILE.

A SMILE is actually contagious (the best type of contagion) and we are neurologically designed to respond to a smile (and any facial expressions actually). So, when someone smiles at us we are automatically programmed to respond by our own mirror-neurons in our brain.

The mirror-neuron response is quicker than any social filter our brain may have to stop us smiling – and so, even if the person you are smiling at does not respond, your very act of smiling DOES stimulate their smile muscles. Did you know you had smile muscles?? You do! They are around your mouth and are called the zygomaticus major muscles.

Now what is brilliant is, because the mirror neurons are instinctive and instantaneously activated with a smile – whether or not the person you are smiling at ACTUALLY smiles, their zygomaticus major muscles are still being tweaked and stimulated, they are literally smiling on the inside. This might sound mad, but it’s actually true, and we’ll provide a link to one of our favourite authors, Dr.David Hamilton (a bio-chemist by trade), who talks more about the science and research behind this phenomenon in a brief YOUTUBE video HERE:

Isn’t it amazing that a smile can be so contagious? We might have instinctively thought as much, but it’s wonderful to know that the science is there behind it too.

Just as smiles are contagious, so are frowns… the mirror neurons don’t just reflect positive facial signals, but also negative ones. So, then the question becomes this, what do you want to be? A negative ripple out into the world or a positive ripple?

Being a positive ripple doesn’t just limit you to smiling of course, there is so much more we can do and that’s why in these times, we can all do our bit to be a positive ripple, be that through a SMILE (the simplest way to do it we think) or indeed through other positive gestures and kindnesses.

Here at Meta HQ (aka Jo’s house) we’ve dropped letters into our next-door neighbours, just checking to make sure (a) they’re OK and (b) they know they can ask us for help should they have to self-isolate as a family.

Talking of isolation, we must all be mindful of our own mental health too. Actually building our own social-networks in these times of self-isolation is important too. I’ve WhatsApp messaged all my friends – checked in with family around the world and have plans to have virtual meet ups both with customers, family and friends in the coming weeks and months. Once you start thinking about it and getting creative, it’s pretty amazing what you can do virtually. So, once you’ve got your head around the reality of the situation, how about getting together virtually with your friends and family?  And be creative! We’re going to be doing a virtual wine-tasting with a couple of our friends, for example, as part of our virtual social evening together (we bought the same wines to try together).

The thing is, strengthening your social network is not only good for your own mental health, it’s also being a positive ripple out to those that are in your social network too – and ripples go out and they come back. They’re metaphorical positivity boomerangs – as you put it out there, it will come back.

And of course, this is an opportunity for ALL of us to come TOGETHER – as partners, as family, as friends, as a community, as a team, as a workplace, as leaders, as an organisation, as a country and as a world.

Being a positive ripple, can be as simple as a SMILE.

So, when you next go out of your home, make sure at the very least, you are wearing YOUR SMILE, and when you’re at home, be a virtual positive ripple – and see what a difference it makes. Positivity makes us FEEL GOOD and others FEEL GOOD, and right now we all need to FEEL GOOD.

Me and Di want you all to know, that we’re always just a phone call or email away. You’re a part of our Meta family and as such we’d like you to know that we’re here to help and support you in any way we can. So please do call on us – we’ll do what we can to be a positive ripple for you.

Take care of yourselves and each other,

In peace and love

Jo & Di xxx

About Jo Clarkson

Jo Clarkson is the CEO of Meta and a frequent writer of the blog.
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