Happiness Habits – Day 15: When All Else Fails, Fake It
Have you heard of the expression: “Fake It ‘Till You Make It?” You usually hear it in the business or entertainment worlds. The idea is that if you look like a success, others around you will treat you like a successful person, and will send more projects and opportunities your way. At some point you can stop faking it because you’ve become what you’ve pretended to be. “Faking” in this context isn’t as phony as it sounds. What you are really doing is modeling behaviors until you’ve internalized them. Once that happens, you will start to see results, because you’ve been working hard at exactly the types of things a successful person does.
The interesting thing is that this works in all sorts of different contexts. If you want to be a thin and fit person, start acting like one, eating the things they eat, working out, moving around more etc. After a few months of doing that, it’s no surprise that you would start to slim down significantly.
Since happiness is on my mind a lot during this project, I did a little research to see if the same concept could also work for feelings – including increasing a feeling of self-worth, wellbeing, and of course being happier. The good news is that it does. You really can fake happiness until your mood improves.
How To Start Faking Happiness
Faking happiness is a lot easier than you may think. You can start with nothing more complicated than smiling. A fake smile will do in a pinch, but if you can get your entire face, including your eyes involved. Give smiling your best effort, even if you aren’t feeling it. Your brain doesn’t know the difference, and will start to produce soothing and uplifting responses.
After a bit of smiling, you should feel your mood start to increase. Remind yourself throughout the day to smile more for best results. When you’re ready to kick it up a notch, give laughing a try. Again, if there’s nothing funny going on, just start giggling and laughing. It has a profound impact on the body. Not only will it instantly lift your bad mood and make you feel happier, laughing has also been shown to increase your body’s ability to heal and it will improve your immune system.
Give it a try and start practicing faking happiness. You can smile and laugh at yourself in front of the bathroom mirror in the mornings. Then make an effort to smile more and laugh often as you go about your day. Not only will you notice your own happiness levels increase, you’ll also make a difference in those around you.
[From time to time, I’ll point you to something that I think would be useful during this Happiness Habit Challenge. Sometimes it’ll be a book, sometimes it’ll be another website or blog post, sometimes it’s my own offering. If I get any benefit from it (rarely), I’ll let you know.]
Have you ever done yoga? How about Laughter Yoga? Yes, it’s really a form of Yoga that involves learning how to laugh on command. I’ve attended Laughter Yoga workshops, and they’re tremendous fun! Check out the founder’s website; look up a local group near you and learn how to laugh! (Very good, very good – YAY!)