Do the Act and the Feelings Will Follow

I read a Facebook post this morning about someone that was having a rough time.  She was asking how to stay motivated and appreciative when life throws you a curve ball.  Of course I responded something about appreciating the down times for the acquired learning and growth- blah, blah, blah.

Then I stopped and asked myself “Do you practice what you preach?”

Honest answer “Not always…but I try.”

Sometimes when I’m down or doing something extremely challenging I can’t always manufacture the sincere emotions of gratitude, love and delight so I ‘act as if’. 

For example…this morning I went for a run that started out fine then quickly became painful, boring, and labored.  I wanted to finish but my body did not.  So I put a smile on my face and stretched my arms out to the side like I was crossing a finish line, and closed my eyes (momentarily so as not to trip on a crack) and I felt it.

An incredible feeling of energy and joy filled me.  I was able to make it past the goal I set for myself because of this technique.  It felt great!

Much research has been done on the benefits the act of altering your body has on your state of mind.  Pulling your head up, shoulders back, smiling, laughing, modifying your body into a position that comes from joy will also result in joy if the process is reversed.

Mark Stibich, Ph.D. wrote an article on one such research project (, stating that some of the benefits of smiling include relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, and boosting your immune system.  An added bonus is that it makes you look younger and more successful.

Doing the act can create the feeling.  So the next time you feel overwhelmed, angry, or down lift your head, place a large beautiful smile on your face, and with a light, carefree voice say “I feel great!”  Who knows…it might just change your reality.  At the very least it will amuse the people watching you.  Go ahead Brighten Someone’s Day.

Action Step:  Stop what you are doing and smile.  If you want to take this to a whole other level put on your favorite music and dance around your room.  It is virtually impossible to remain depressed while dancing to your favorite song.  Come on.  Give it a try!


About FindYourFire

Writer, speaker, and life coach Heather O'Neill is president of Progressive Image and creator of the Fire in Five program...helping people reconnect and find the joy in their lives.
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