Fake it ’til you feel it

by Ashley on March 12, 2012

Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning is the hardest thing I do all day. Been there? Just facing the sunshine, putting clothes on, dreading a particular situation or person is more than enough for me to hit the snooze for the eighth time and pull the comforter back over my head. (It’s called a comforter for a reason.)

And I know I’m not the only one to deal with this feeling. Last week I was talking with a friend who is having some relationship problems. She’s just not feeling the love anymore. She’s been married a long time, couple of kids. Frustrated with the way things are at home. She feels taken for granted. There’s no one else in the picture, but things are bland, stale, faded. Sometimes just coming home is a burden.

It could be a romantic relationship, a valued friendship, a job situation, anything, really.

So I listened. I sympathized. After all, I’ve been there before, so I understood those feelings, and I know they’re difficult to shake. But I’ve been trying something lately that has helped me, so I offered my (unsolicited) advice hoping it might help her. It’s pretty simple too: Fake it.

I know that seems dishonest, but I promise it’s only temporary. I’m sure you’ve heard that when you feel lousy, you should smile. It’s the opposite of how you feel, but the emotions a smile signifies are how you want to feel. A scowl will make you feel worse, and a smile will make you feel better. (It’s true! Google it.) Sounds crazy, but it works in all sorts of situations. Like this one.

Smiling expresses joy, and we’re more likely to feel joy simply by smiling. So I told my friend to fake being happy, and over time, it’s very likely that she’ll begin to actually feel happier. In fact, her whole home will likely feel happier because her family will see her smiling and acting happy. It will cheer the whole mood of the house.

Of course, the opposite is also true. You know what I’m talking about. When you come home in a bad mood, and even if everyone else was perfectly fine, your sour expression puts a damper on the evening. Or when a harsh word to someone else steals some of your joy. It happens to me a lot.

So I decided to start fresh, acting like I was happy even when I wasn’t. By no means am I perfect in the application of this experiment. But I’ve learned to like people I was convinced I’d never like, and I’ve learned not to let a brief moment of anger or frustration ruin a perfectly lovely day. I’ve even acted confident in situations where I was anything but, and it has helped then, too.

I have no idea whether my friend will actually try it, or if she does, whether she’ll be successful. But my reasoning when I started testing this theory was, what harm can it do? I lose nothing by trying it, and it has helped me be happier. In fact, I’m proud to announce, I’ve felt calmer in the car because I’ve forced myself to remember that I’m not in that big a hurry. (It’s only a slight improvement so far, I sheepishly admit, but it is working, and I’m certain it will continue to help.)

Have you tried acting happy so you’d feel happier? How did it turn out?


Love this philosophy, Ashley! A few years back I made somewhat of a game out of trying to get a grumpy person to speak to me or the real pièce de résistance to get them to smile.

It’s my own little personal challenge and you are right – it does work. 🙂

by Cathy Miller on March 12, 2012 at 6:06 pm. Reply #

It does indeed. I tried it in the car this morning – that’s the real test for me 🙂

by Ashley on March 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm. Reply #

Negativity can be so invasive. Being aware of your negativity and making a conscious decision to do something about it is wonderful.

by Wade Finnegan on March 12, 2012 at 10:55 pm. Reply #

You’re so right, Wade. I know a few people who are negative a lot, and it’s pervasive to their life, and sometimes to mine too. The only person I can change is me, though, so I try to concentrate on being positive.

by Ashley on March 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm. Reply #

Smile – people will wonder what you’re up to 🙂

by Mark Keating on March 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm. Reply #

LOL! It’s true 🙂

by Ashley on March 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm. Reply #

Sometimes this works for me but not with truly close friends… there I need to be honest because they can see all the way through me.

by Anne Wayman on March 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm. Reply #

The way I see it, Anne, is that it’s not about tricking someone else, it’s about tricking yourself. And not indefinitely … only until you actually start to feel the way you want to feel. It’s more about *choosing* to feel a certain way. Because we all control our emotions (no matter how uncontrollable they feel sometimes!)

by Ashley on March 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm. Reply #

I can do this with everyone but my husband. He can see right through me. Maybe it’s the way I smile or that he just knows me that well. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately (not really sure why. Still working that one out) and even if I don’t say a word to him, he just looks at me and knows. He has dubbed me “grumpy lady” this week.

I agree with Anne though when it comes to close friends too. However, just calling them and getting a good snark infested rant out makes me feel tons better.

by Nikki on March 14, 2012 at 10:09 pm. Reply #

Haha “grumpy lady” — that’s a lot nicer than what my husband calls me when I’m in a bad mood 😉 Thanks for stopping by, Nikki!

by Ashley on March 14, 2012 at 10:21 pm. Reply #

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