July 6, 2021
by Bryan Robinson, Ph.D., Forbes
“Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone,” goes the song. For decades, singers have crooned about the power of smiling to make you feel better. With the pandemic and increases of anxiety and depression, smiling and optimism don’t come easily these days. But a new study to be published in the journal, Experimental Psychology, reports the sheer activity of moving your facial muscles to form a smile—even if you fake it—generates positive emotions and raises your mood. Could smiling be a simple antidote to help us get through these extraordinary times?
Clinicians and Twelve Step programs have batted around the age-old strategy of “acting as if”—a simple, yet powerful tool that says you can lift your workday mood by acting as if you already feel better than you actually do. Here’s how it works. You give yourself to a certain performance as if it’s how you already feel. When you act “as if,” the mood you pretend becomes a reality. Suppose you’re angry toward someone on your team who offended you but you want to be forgiving. You can start to feel forgiving by acting as if you are forgiving. Perhaps you feel envious of a coworker’s promotion but want to be happy for her. You can be happy by acting as if you are happy.
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