2 full bags of Sainsbury’s shopping and a particularly biting wind PLUS by trying to remember where on earth I parked the car yesterday, all contributed what was, in hindsight – a serious face.
This was helpfully pointed out to be by a chap changing a large sign outside the store in the form of “Cheer up, love – it might never happen”.
“Oh smashing – thank you for your sage wisdom”
(Was what I would have said, an a hilarious, sarcastic tone.. if I I had thought of it at the time)
But actually, feminism and good manners aside – it wasn’t actually bad advice.
We don’t smile because we are happy, we are happy because we smile.
Philosopher William James first theorised this idea saying:
“If you want to have a quality – act as if”.
Smiling actually releases chemicals into the body that make us feel better.
Even ‘pretend’ ones.
In experiments on smiling, participants reported feeling happier when told to smile – even though they knew it was an experiment.
When you feel frightened – your heart rate speeds up, and you face gets paler, but if you smile – your heart rate slows down and colour returns to your cheeks.
It works with other emotions too.
Anxiety, low mood, fear and even attraction to another person – can all be ‘hacked’ in this way by changing your physiology to match how you would act.
Acting as if.
When practiced; acting as if you feel confident, as if you aren’t anxious, as ifyou were free from pain, as if you felt happy, and so on – can give you enough relief to cope with a situation and get through it.
Your body recognises that you usually slouch, (for example), when your mood is low, and will get the signal “she’s standing proudly with her shoulders back…. things must be OK!”
Of course, acting as if isn’t going to make all your problems magically vanish – but changing your physiology is scientifically proven to be a pattern interrupt that can save you sinking into habitual ways of being.
It buys you time and steers you in a more positive direction.
Try it today.
Notice if your shoulders raise, your brow furrows, or you slump in your chair – and see if you can hack whatever emotion is behind it, by purposely changing your posture.
It could be that it isn’t the result of negative emotion but more habit – in which case switching up your posture and your mood could just give you a particularly brilliant day.
Shoulders down and back, chin lifted, facial muscles unclenched
Scan your body for any tension and part by part – purposely relax each of them as you discover any tension.
Be aware of the difference you feel – and if you do notice tension, check in with yourself a few times a day until your new posture is just the way you do things now.
Have a great day
Tanya & Claire x