“Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible.”
– St. Augustine

Is happiness a choice or a skill?

Psychologists have examined what makes us happy and have determined that our DNA just might be a factor.  In addition to being wired for happiness-we can acquire a skill set, that when applied with purpose and intention, will help us achieve greater happiness.

The 3rd week in March is recognized as National Act Happy Week.  The idea behind Acting Happy is simple:  acting happy makes us happy.

A few ways that acting happy can actually make us happy:  1.  Put a little bounce in your step-change your gait-change your mood.  2.  Say "hello" and interact with a stranger-display genuine interest, smile and maintain eye contact.

A few ways that acting happy can actually make us happy: 1. Put a little bounce in your step-change your gait-change your mood. 2. Say “hello” and interact with a stranger-display genuine interest, smile and maintain eye contact. 3. Redirect our mind to a positive space with a burst of physical movements-sad thoughts gone-giving room for more positive happy thoughts.

Here are a couple of examples that illustrate beautifully how outward behavior can trigger an internal response:

1.  Walk like a happy person-put a little bounce in your step.  Studies have shown that walking in a slumped, depressed way makes us vulnerable to negative thoughts, and our point of view becomes negative and depressed.  When you feel yourself getting in the doldrums, kick it up a notch and walk around the block with head held high, back straight and a gait that declares, “I’m all that!”

2.  Talk to a stranger. Again, research has given us insight into how reaching out to a stranger can create a greater sense of well-being.  One control group was instructed to be efficient and avoid eye contact/interaction with the barista at Starbucks.  The other group was told to make a genuine connection-smile, eye contact and/or conversation.  The study, published in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science, reported that those who make the social connection had a greater sense of belonging, more satisfaction with the experience and a more positive mood.

3.  And according to the little cartoon, throwing down your briefcase and doing pull ups on a tree branch works for some! Actually, a burst of energetic movements helps to derail a depressed or negative thought, giving your mind a chance to redirect to a happier place.

So, iSissies, let’s celebrate National Act Happy Week by

  • making a deliberate effort to walk with purpose and a spring in our step
  • making a genuine connection with the strangers we encounter in our day-to-day activities
  • redirecting negative unhappy thoughts with a burst of physical movements

I know I can change my mood by applying these ideas-especially number 3-I crank up music and dance like nobody’s watching when I need to shake a gloomy mood.

What do you do to improve your mood?  Do you think “acting” happy works?