In my personal quest for happiness the most impacting realization I ever had is just how much the body and mind are connected. A philosophy of emotion class that I took in school brought this to my attention first. I forget which philosopher said, ‘The anger is in the fist.’ The idea that emotions have as much presence in the body as they do in the mind at that by changing the body you can change the mind was intriguing.
Several months later I read that you can feel happier by smiling. Really. Try it. Right now where you are sitting, let a big grin stretch across your face. Feel better? Now let it sit there for a few minutes. Has your outlook on your entire day changed, even a wee bit?
Did you feel a difference?
The spring that I decided to experiment with that notion was one of the happiest of my life. I changed my physical habits. I tried to keep a smile on my face more often. I noticed the biggest change while driving. By keeping my body relaxed and a smile on my face I felt far less irritated in traffic. What a nice change!
I also started working out more often to beat stress and increase endorphins. That helped. So much in fact, that if I find myself feeling blue these days, a good workout is now the first thing I try.
In the book that I am kicking off the new year with, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin includes in her personal 10 Commandments, “Act the way I want to feel.” She discusses some of the research she has read that supports this idea. Did you know that botox patients feel happier because it is impossible for them to furrow their brows?
Anyways. Just for fun, here’s me practicing my faces.
This is my calm and happy in traffic face.
This is my very happy face. It’s the one I put on facebook and stuff.
This, unfortunately, is my laughing face. I look like I’m in pain!
Scowl. Not very threatening looking, am I?
This is my bored face. I probably look like this when I watch television.
Frustrated! This is how I look when something on my work computer isn’t doing what I want it to.
This is how I would look to you if you just said something amusing or interesting to me. I can’t think of a witty reply so I am going to flip my hair instead.
This is how I look when I’m not impressed and I want to communicate that without saying something mean.
Well, that pretty much wraps it up. But let’s not end with unimpressed. Let’s return to the happy facebook face, which is the face I hope to be wearing more often this year.
Happiness: Fake it ’till you make it.