How Pretending to Be Happier Can Change Your Life
by Wendy Keller
Disclaimer: If you are in the midst of a current life crisis, this article is NOT meant for you. It is for those who find themselves in a semi-permanent state of unhappiness for months.
I read an interesting study. The doctors at a psych ward decided to administer a test to their patients to determine the extent of their mental illness. As predicted, most patients’ results evidenced extreme mental and emotional problems. Then the doctors gave each patient the same test again, this time instructing them to answer the questions how they believed a “normal, healthy person” would answer them. Amazingly, 83% of the patients were able to do it!
What can we learn from these mentally ill people?
That there is some ability, even in our darkest moments, to know what mental health, vibrant wellness and emotional calm would feel like. Many of the patients who “passed” the second test improved dramatically and got themselves released. If you’d like to release yourself from your own private inner “mental hospital”, what can you do?
Fake it til you make it!
Here’s a simple method:
1. Write down the top 10 emotions you feel on a weekly basis.
2. Write down the exact opposite of those emotions, whatever they are.
3. “Film” a movie in your brain where you are the star. Imagine yourself going through a whole day pretending to be the person with those opposite emotions. How would you dress? What would you eat? How would you walk? How would you talk to yourself in your head? Like you would for any real film, rehearse and edit it until the movie in your mind is perfect. Run through it beginning to end one more time.
Give yourself an Oscar
The more times you act as if you were the person in your movie, the more times you’ll get the kinds of consequences the person in your movie got. When you fake that you love yourself, love the world, love your life and the people in it, you start to confuse your poor, sad brain. It thinks, “Wait! Are we sad or happy? OK, let’s play happy. Why the heck not? It’s more fun!”
Every time you pass a mirror, smile your best celebrity smile for the camera.
Pretty soon, you just might find you like your role so much you adopt it permanently!