Fake It Until You Make It: Mind-Body 'Tricks' Can Help You Feel Happier, More Confident

Reviewed Jul 11, 2017

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Summary

  • Smile and laugh more.
  • Use good posture.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Make eye contact.

You’ve probably heard the expression “fake it until you make it.” This expression doesn’t advocate that you become a phony or a liar.

But there is substantial evidence that changing your body language in small ways can improve your attitude and help you make a better impression on others. In other words, if you want to be happier, start acting happier.

Since Charles Darwin first proposed the idea in 1872 that facial expressions affect mood, we’ve been told to “put on a happy face” and smile. Turns out that old folk “remedy” works. A number of studies, including a ground-breaking 1988 study by German psychologist Fritz Strack, found that even faked smiles can make us feel better. The take-away point: If you can coax yourself into smiling more often, you may very well trick your brain into thinking that you’re on the road to happiness.

Sit up straight

The same philosophy applies to good posture. Turns out it’s easier to think positive thoughts when standing up or sitting up straight, according to a recent Ohio University study.

“Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people. But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves,” says study co-author Richard Petty. Not only do we think more positive thoughts while maintaining good posture, but we also have more confidence in those thoughts.

Get moving

Another quick mind-body trick if you start feeling blue is to get moving. Exercise, even casual walking, can help relieve low-grade depression and give you a sense of energy and well-being, according to Harvard Medical School reports. Not only that, Creativity Research Journal reports that you can feel more creative for up to 2 hours after moderate exercise.

Laugh it off

Perhaps the biggest mood changer is laughter. Laughter is such a great tonic for what ails us that there are clubs where people actually get together and force themselves to laugh (WorldLaughterTour.com). If you find forcing yourself to laugh among strangers a little awkward, here are some more natural ways to add laughter to your life.

  • Develop a sense of humor about yourself.
  • Prolong the joke. If you heard something funny, laugh a little harder and a little longer than you might normally do.
  • Subscribe to funny e-newsletters; watch funny shows and read humorous magazines; listen to comedy CDs when driving or doing errands.
  • Spend time with people who have a good sense of humor.

Take deep breaths

If you find yourself stressed out, stop and take deep breaths. When stressed, the tendency is to hold your breath or take short, shallow breaths. When you start shallow breathing, you’re sending signals to the body that you’re in a fight-or-flight situation, which only deepens the feeling of anxiety. Deep belly breathing sends the message that all is well and your body will relax in turn.

“Faking” it at social events

When you’re feeling down, the temptation is to station yourself in front of the TV or crawl under the covers. But this only helps prolong your misery. Research shows that interacting with others actually lessens depression. Even if you can think of a million reasons why you’d rather stay home alone, if you make the effort to socialize, chances are you will feel better in the long run.

If you have anxiety about socializing, here are some tricks to help you “fake it” until you start feeling more comfortable.

  • Smile. This is the number one ingredient for connecting with others.
  • Make eye contact. Make a game of it by telling yourself to mentally describe the color of the other person’s eyes.
  • Remember a person’s name and repeat it in conversation. Don’t overdo it, though, or it might seem manipulative.
  • Ask questions and actively listen. This will take the focus off your own anxiety and help you connect.
  • Be polite. Saying little things like “please” and “thank you” will help give you a sense of calm and self-control.

Resources

www.PositivePsychologyNews.com

www.WorldLaughterTour.com

By Amy Fries
Source: Positive Psychology Center, http://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/; Kleinke, C.L., Peterson, T.R., & Rutledge, T.R. (1998). Effects of self-generated facial expressions on mood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 272-279’ U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: PubMed.gov

Summary

  • Smile and laugh more.
  • Use good posture.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Make eye contact.

You’ve probably heard the expression “fake it until you make it.” This expression doesn’t advocate that you become a phony or a liar.

But there is substantial evidence that changing your body language in small ways can improve your attitude and help you make a better impression on others. In other words, if you want to be happier, start acting happier.

Since Charles Darwin first proposed the idea in 1872 that facial expressions affect mood, we’ve been told to “put on a happy face” and smile. Turns out that old folk “remedy” works. A number of studies, including a ground-breaking 1988 study by German psychologist Fritz Strack, found that even faked smiles can make us feel better. The take-away point: If you can coax yourself into smiling more often, you may very well trick your brain into thinking that you’re on the road to happiness.

Sit up straight

The same philosophy applies to good posture. Turns out it’s easier to think positive thoughts when standing up or sitting up straight, according to a recent Ohio University study.

“Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people. But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves,” says study co-author Richard Petty. Not only do we think more positive thoughts while maintaining good posture, but we also have more confidence in those thoughts.

Get moving

Another quick mind-body trick if you start feeling blue is to get moving. Exercise, even casual walking, can help relieve low-grade depression and give you a sense of energy and well-being, according to Harvard Medical School reports. Not only that, Creativity Research Journal reports that you can feel more creative for up to 2 hours after moderate exercise.

Laugh it off

Perhaps the biggest mood changer is laughter. Laughter is such a great tonic for what ails us that there are clubs where people actually get together and force themselves to laugh (WorldLaughterTour.com). If you find forcing yourself to laugh among strangers a little awkward, here are some more natural ways to add laughter to your life.

  • Develop a sense of humor about yourself.
  • Prolong the joke. If you heard something funny, laugh a little harder and a little longer than you might normally do.
  • Subscribe to funny e-newsletters; watch funny shows and read humorous magazines; listen to comedy CDs when driving or doing errands.
  • Spend time with people who have a good sense of humor.

Take deep breaths

If you find yourself stressed out, stop and take deep breaths. When stressed, the tendency is to hold your breath or take short, shallow breaths. When you start shallow breathing, you’re sending signals to the body that you’re in a fight-or-flight situation, which only deepens the feeling of anxiety. Deep belly breathing sends the message that all is well and your body will relax in turn.

“Faking” it at social events

When you’re feeling down, the temptation is to station yourself in front of the TV or crawl under the covers. But this only helps prolong your misery. Research shows that interacting with others actually lessens depression. Even if you can think of a million reasons why you’d rather stay home alone, if you make the effort to socialize, chances are you will feel better in the long run.

If you have anxiety about socializing, here are some tricks to help you “fake it” until you start feeling more comfortable.

  • Smile. This is the number one ingredient for connecting with others.
  • Make eye contact. Make a game of it by telling yourself to mentally describe the color of the other person’s eyes.
  • Remember a person’s name and repeat it in conversation. Don’t overdo it, though, or it might seem manipulative.
  • Ask questions and actively listen. This will take the focus off your own anxiety and help you connect.
  • Be polite. Saying little things like “please” and “thank you” will help give you a sense of calm and self-control.

Resources

www.PositivePsychologyNews.com

www.WorldLaughterTour.com

By Amy Fries
Source: Positive Psychology Center, http://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/; Kleinke, C.L., Peterson, T.R., & Rutledge, T.R. (1998). Effects of self-generated facial expressions on mood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 272-279’ U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: PubMed.gov

Summary

  • Smile and laugh more.
  • Use good posture.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Make eye contact.

You’ve probably heard the expression “fake it until you make it.” This expression doesn’t advocate that you become a phony or a liar.

But there is substantial evidence that changing your body language in small ways can improve your attitude and help you make a better impression on others. In other words, if you want to be happier, start acting happier.

Since Charles Darwin first proposed the idea in 1872 that facial expressions affect mood, we’ve been told to “put on a happy face” and smile. Turns out that old folk “remedy” works. A number of studies, including a ground-breaking 1988 study by German psychologist Fritz Strack, found that even faked smiles can make us feel better. The take-away point: If you can coax yourself into smiling more often, you may very well trick your brain into thinking that you’re on the road to happiness.

Sit up straight

The same philosophy applies to good posture. Turns out it’s easier to think positive thoughts when standing up or sitting up straight, according to a recent Ohio University study.

“Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people. But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves,” says study co-author Richard Petty. Not only do we think more positive thoughts while maintaining good posture, but we also have more confidence in those thoughts.

Get moving

Another quick mind-body trick if you start feeling blue is to get moving. Exercise, even casual walking, can help relieve low-grade depression and give you a sense of energy and well-being, according to Harvard Medical School reports. Not only that, Creativity Research Journal reports that you can feel more creative for up to 2 hours after moderate exercise.

Laugh it off

Perhaps the biggest mood changer is laughter. Laughter is such a great tonic for what ails us that there are clubs where people actually get together and force themselves to laugh (WorldLaughterTour.com). If you find forcing yourself to laugh among strangers a little awkward, here are some more natural ways to add laughter to your life.

  • Develop a sense of humor about yourself.
  • Prolong the joke. If you heard something funny, laugh a little harder and a little longer than you might normally do.
  • Subscribe to funny e-newsletters; watch funny shows and read humorous magazines; listen to comedy CDs when driving or doing errands.
  • Spend time with people who have a good sense of humor.

Take deep breaths

If you find yourself stressed out, stop and take deep breaths. When stressed, the tendency is to hold your breath or take short, shallow breaths. When you start shallow breathing, you’re sending signals to the body that you’re in a fight-or-flight situation, which only deepens the feeling of anxiety. Deep belly breathing sends the message that all is well and your body will relax in turn.

“Faking” it at social events

When you’re feeling down, the temptation is to station yourself in front of the TV or crawl under the covers. But this only helps prolong your misery. Research shows that interacting with others actually lessens depression. Even if you can think of a million reasons why you’d rather stay home alone, if you make the effort to socialize, chances are you will feel better in the long run.

If you have anxiety about socializing, here are some tricks to help you “fake it” until you start feeling more comfortable.

  • Smile. This is the number one ingredient for connecting with others.
  • Make eye contact. Make a game of it by telling yourself to mentally describe the color of the other person’s eyes.
  • Remember a person’s name and repeat it in conversation. Don’t overdo it, though, or it might seem manipulative.
  • Ask questions and actively listen. This will take the focus off your own anxiety and help you connect.
  • Be polite. Saying little things like “please” and “thank you” will help give you a sense of calm and self-control.

Resources

www.PositivePsychologyNews.com

www.WorldLaughterTour.com

By Amy Fries
Source: Positive Psychology Center, http://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/; Kleinke, C.L., Peterson, T.R., & Rutledge, T.R. (1998). Effects of self-generated facial expressions on mood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 272-279’ U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: PubMed.gov

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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