Can You Achieve Happiness by Faking It?
Have you ever put a smile on your face when you just weren’t feeling it? It’s hard to do, but the results are much better than if you frown. There are events and periods of time that truly test our strength and threaten to destroy the happiness that took so long to find.
Although the word, “fake” implies that you’re being deceitful, it may be a good tactic to use when you’re feeling down and out and need a boost to your well-being. Most of us aren’t comfortable with not telling the truth, so faking happiness may not appeal to you at first. But, going through the day with a positive outlook – even though you may feel the opposite – can actually bring feelings of happiness.
It could be because of the way others react toward your demeanor. If you’re sad and downcast, others will treat you differently than if you approach them smiling and self-confident. Several phrases that have developed over time seem to validate faking happiness to achieve it. “Grin and bear it,” and “Turn your smile upside down,” are just a couple of cliché phrases that indicate you should smile when you don’t really feel it – but eventually the feelings will be real.
Dozens of studies have been performed on the subject of happiness. One telling study had persons holding a pencil in their teeth causing them to smile – while other persons held the pencil with their lips, mimicking a frown. Then, both groups were asked to look at cartoons. Those with fake smiles rated the cartoons much funnier than those with frowns, indicating that even fake smiles can cause a higher level of happiness.
A recent test on those whose abilities to frown were impaired by Botox injections were happier than those who could frown easily. That study also indicates that even a fake smile is better than none at all. Those who lack confidence are sometimes told by counselors and life coaches to fake self-esteem and confidence – just to see how it feels. Those who act more confidently than they feel are better able to project confidence to others.
Know that you don’t need to be happy all the time. Having periods of being unhappy can better help you focus on what needs to be changed in your life so you can recognize happiness when you do find it. Finding a “happy balance” is a better way to pursue happiness and help you cope with anything that comes your way. By recognizing the emotions you’re feeling, you’ll become much better at coping with them.