Fake It Till You Feel It


Our emotions drive our behavior, but also the other way around. Learn to behave as if you were the person you want to be. To feel happier, smile, stand tall, and walk happily.

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.

Thich Nhat Han

The As If Principle

If you want to feel happier, simply start behaving as if you were having a good time. It is far quicker and more effective than trying to cheer yourself up by thinking happy thoughts.

To be specific, you can adjust your posture, walk, and facial expression:

  • Happy Posture. Stand tall and relaxed. Lift your head and keep the chin slightly tucked to lengthen your spine. Roll your shoulders up and back and keep them back as you roll them down.
  • Happy Walk. Building upon the happy posture, let’s move on to walking. Take long steps. Walk with a bounce as if you have springs in your shoes, and let your arms swing back and forth.
  • Happy Face. Relax your muscles in your forehead and cheeks. Put on a wide smile that looks natural.

Those who are talented (or shameless) can sing to feel happier. Research shows that singing raises happiness levels significantly, whereas just listening to music does not.

The as-if principle doesn’t only work with happy feelings but with any feelings. Find the behavior that is strongly associated with your desired state and act like the person you want to become.

You can also practice this technique formally. A fantastic example of formal practice is yoga, where different postures evoke different feelings. Think people doing yoga not because they are calm but because they are nuts. It is through the postures the yogis experience the serenity they desire.

Focus on changing your behavior rather than trying to change the way you think. Sooner or later, your behavior will lead to happy thoughts, which reinforces the loop.

Lift your head, put a spring in your step, smile, and do whatever a happy person would do.

Wisdom lies in doing.

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