Smile like you mean it

By Yiting - 2 Aug 2015

We’ve all had hard and stressful times when we found ourselves in those negative spirals where we just can’t find a way out. It might be a situation like when you have too many assignments.

blog img

When we’re stressed, our mind sometimes keeps buzzing and sending messages to boss us what to do. Even though you always try to look at the bright side of life, a worrying mind just won’t easily allow you to do that. We all know it’s very hard to simply put a positive idea such as “you can do it!” into our head and expect it to affect our actual behaviours and make things better. That might work sometimes but psychology research reminds us that behaviours actually can also affect our attitudes and we can “fake it till we make it” through some simple acts. Here are the useful tips I learned from Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar’s Positive Psychology course taught at Harvard University.

Your body language shapes your mood.

There’s magic in your smiles. Psychologists argue that our body language, such as facial expressions can influence our mood. Research shows that humans always want a match between mind and behaviour. When we put on a smile or a frown on our face, our body chemistry is going to change to reflect whatever our face is showing. So if you’re feeling down, try to smile more often to people around you; you will actually feel better by doing that! It is said by Thich Nhat Hanh, a buddist monk, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy”.

It doesn’t mean you just pretend to be happy.

However, your restless mind might think “how about being accepting of my real emotions?” There’s a difference between suppressing your emotions and trying to act positively. We can still accept our bad emotions and experience the pain, and also choose to do the things we think to be most helpful or healthy to ourselves. It can be flashing somebody a smile, walking around with head up, being nice to friends, or practising hobbies. These actions can be hints to our minds and gradually good feelings will come after the doing.