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Trying to Figure Out How to be Happy?

Do you smile because you’re happy?

Or do you feel happy because you smile?

Do you frown because you’re miserable?

Or do you feel miserable because you frown?

Does how you feel affect your behaviour?

Or does your behaviour affect how you feel?

So what am I talking about?  I’m talking about the ‘as if’ principle and the original work of William James.  James proposed that behaviour causes emotion.  Think about it.  If you behave ‘as if’ something is true, then the message to your body will be interpreted as if it is true. 

It’s easy to assume we smile because we’re happy.  But when you’re feeling a bit down behave as if you’re happy by smiling and lo and behold your mood will lift.

“…rather than try to cheer yourself up by thinking happy thoughts, it is far quicker and more effective to simply behave as if you are having a good time.  Smile, put a spring in your step, hold your head up high, use happy talk, dance, laugh, sing or do whatever else you enjoy doing.”

Your behaviour can create and change your emotional state.

The excellent new book Rip It Up by Richard Wiseman, Professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology at University of Hertfordshire, explains the ‘as if’ principle.  It provides an insight, not only into the research that has tested and validated the principle, but shows you how you can apply behaving ‘as if’ to make fast, effective improvements in your life.  Be it to lose weight, save your marriage, stop smoking or to feel as confident as Richard Branson for your next presentation.

Here’s 4 quick tips to use your body to instantly change your brain:

#1 PULL ME – PUSH YOU (motivation)

Push an object away from you and you’re behaving as if you don’t like it.  Your brain will get the message – this isn’t for me. 

Pull an object towards you and you’re behaving as if you like it.  Your brain will get the message that this is something you like and will become more positive towards it.

Test it out with that next plate of biscuits that gets left tantalizingly in front you, but that you don’t want to eat.  Push it firmly away across the table.  Feel the temptation fade away.

#2 TENSING UP (willpower)

Inner strength = will power.  Research shows that behaving as if you have that inner strength by tensing your muscles will result in an increase in willpower. 

When it comes to maximizing your willpower to leave that next chocolate in the box, leave that last biscuit in the tin or even decline the offer of a cigarette, then contract your muscle(s).  Contract your bicep, make a fist, grip a pen, whatever muscle works for you.  And feel that resolve grow and expand.

#3 POWER POSING (confidence)

Increase your confidence and self-esteem instantaneously by behaving as if and adopt a power pose. 

If you’re sitting – lean back, look up, interlock your fingers behind head.

If you’re standing – put your feet flat on the ground, push those shoulders back, chest forward and hold your hands out in front of you.

Feel your confidence and self-esteem expand to fill the space.

#4 MAKE A START (procrastination)

I’ve covered this one before – literally behave as if you are a go getter, an action taker and procrastinate yourself in to action.

Whatever it is you’re procrastinating about.  Take a few minutes.  And just make a start.  Just do a little bit.  And you’ll be amazed how your need to complete the task increases and that feeling of procrastination disappears entirely. 

Try it out.  And remember it’s all about BEHAVING ‘as if’ …

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2 responses to “Trying to Figure Out How to be Happy?

  1. As good ol’ Dr. Peterfy use to say: “if you smile for 5 minutes it will change your mood”…

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