Faking It May Actually Not Be So Fake After All


English: Emotions associated with happiness

Happiness can be a behavioral choice rather than a mere occurrence.

Research has shown that carrying out the physical activity of smiling will actually trigger the hormones and so on in our bodies that are associated with happiness.[1] In other words; if we smile, we become more inclined to be happy. We sometimes go about our lives as if things happen to us rather than realizing the full extent of our power to control what happens – especially when it comes to our disposition. This information is extremely important for those of us who want to understand what it really takes to live an intentional life. Developing the discipline to choose our behaviors is the most powerful tool we have to forge our own internal reality – one that we have a measure of influence over rather than one that is controlled by external circumstance alone.

It can be very tough and counter-intuitive to think that we will improve our lives if we behave as we would “want to be” instead of “how we are”. We often feel such things as not caring, or anger and we behave according to these feelings – as if our emotions determine behaviors. What we often ignore is the power of behaviors to control emotions. If we smile long enough, we will be more inclined to be happy. If we discipline ourselves to behave as if relationships matter, and that we care, the hormonal cocktail that shapes our experience of life will actually begin to align around these behaviors.

This is not to imply that the effects of existing habits are not a powerful force. Repeated behaviors develop their own mass and momentum to be sure. We have to recognize that this emotion followed by behavior cycle can be a self-reinforcing feedback loop. This is why it is important to recognize that making behavioral choices despite our current emotions can have the effect of putting us in the driver’s seat, rather than a spectator in our own lives – otherwise we are destined to be a slave to habits which color our lives in ways we would not choose. The point is we can forge a more intentional self out of the currents of existing habit.


[1] “Facial Efference and the Experience of Emotion” by Pamela K. Adelmann and Robert B. Zajonc.

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8 responses to “Faking It May Actually Not Be So Fake After All

  1. I very much agree with this! 🙂 This is one of the many philosophies I try to follow in my life. 🙂 Often, when I’m really sad or depressed over something, I tend to joke and laugh more than the usual because after trying to look happy, I feel like I really am and then I forget what made me sad or how I felt initially. 🙂

  2. Thank you for the comment. I think the best gateway to living on purpose is understanding ourselves better. The research done by Adelmann and Zajonc on what they call “Facial Efference and the Experience of Emotion” is a key to that understanding.

  3. An excellent post. I am not sure if I have ever written to tell you this before but I have found this blog and the wisdom of life so impeccably presented every single time just simply exceptional! From the start since following you, I have been singularly impressed with how you manage to tie together life on the physical plane with the spiritual and inner life. Thank you so much! Sharon

    • Sharon, I am humbled by your praise. Thank you very much. I do feel like more of a reporter than an originator of the message. I stand in awe of the message pouring out of the language that is reality, and in even greater awe of how so many of us seem to almost completely miss what appears so obvious to me, and so vital for us to have a truly fulfilling experience of life. Joe.

  4. Nice BLOG! I agree totally with what you ares saying. Being happy will also associate you with other happy people in life. Feeling sad and unhappy will find you other unhappy people. I will re-BLOG you on my BLOG tomorrow. http://georgefebish.wordpress.com

  5. Pingback: Is Hormonal Cocktail a Good One? « The Epigenetics Project Blog

  6. Our insides show! Interesting–I have heard something similar about gratitude and giving: http://alleysbackstreets.wordpress.com/2008/11/15/thanks-and-giving/

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