We’ve all heard that old cliché “Fake it until you make it”. Probably most used in a condescending manner to encourage going through the motions even though your heart has no oomph left. I would guess that many of us who are emotional beings, find it difficult to “fake it until we make it” and that we would rather be authentic in how we feel. However, there is a smidgen of truth to the statement; while we may not have much control over our circumstances or our responsibilities, we do have control over our emotions and feelings. We can, to a degree, fake a smile and produce an improvement in our mood. While it seems silly, it all has to do with how our brain sometimes processes imagination as reality.
What came first? The chicken or the egg? We might be able to make educated guesses, but none of us have ever observed which came first. When it comes to facial expressions and mood, most of us are intuitively inclined to believe that our facial expressions are a direct result of our mood. In other words, that our mood came first, and our facial expressions are the result of our emotions. However, psychologists have realized that despite the amazing power of our brain, it can’t always tell between a real experience from an imaginary one. Meaning, when you smile using your mouth and eye muscles to do so, the neurons that your muscles are sending to the brain can produce a response of positive emotions. This can occur even though there is no other input to signal a change in mood. Even our posture, including the rest of body language, can provide changes to our mood.
What this signifies, is not that we should fake smiles all day to try and induce happiness; unfortunately, it really doesn’t work that way. But what science is beginning to show is that what we choose to imagine and how we choose to move has a powerful impact on our brain and ultimately our mood. Even when confidence is lacking and failures are mounting, we can choose to stand up straight, hold a smile, and imagine our success in the end – That alone can be enough to keep us going. The most famous inventors and artists of our time and times past, learned the power behind using imagination not only to help them create, but to help them keep their spirits going. What we discover then, is that the search for happiness and success becomes not something we find, but rather, something we create inside ourselves.
As much as we would like to believe that if our circumstances were different we would be happier, but the truth is, no matter who you are or where you are, the struggle to maintain joy is equal across the board. Life provides no guarantees and happiness and success are not always a guarantee. However, as humans have grown in our understanding of the human body and emotions, we have discovered several keys to devloping happiness. One of those keys is that we can sometimes change how we feel with a smile and a good ol’ posture reset. Try it sometime! Even if no one is around, who better to appreciate your own shine than YOU!