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You may have noticed times when you want to feel a certain way, but your mind isn’t cooperating. Have you ever wanted to feel confident, but you didn’t? Have you ever been in a funk, and you wanted to get out of it? Have you ever felt anxious about a situation, and you needed to be calm?
Perhaps someone has suggested to you that you “fake it ‘til you make it.” Whether you’re taking on a different role at work, hanging with a new group of people in a social setting, or experiencing parenthood for the first time, this old adage seems to hold water. By “faking it ‘til you make it,” you are often acting as if you’re confident in a situation even when you’re not.
“Faking it ‘til you make it” is one way to manipulate the mind into a different state, but that’s not the only way. Here are some research-backed tricks to put your mind in a different state:
In her well-known TED talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy, PhD, suggests that you should pay attention to nonverbal communication. She isn’t merely referring to communicating with others nonverbally; she wants you to tune into how you communicate with yourself nonverbally. She posits that your body can change your mind, and your mind can change your behavior.
Cuddy’s research indicates that your body postures can impact your mind, which means you may feel differently and act differently based on your body language. For example, by striking “high-power poses” when you’re not feeling confident, you may be able to boost your confidence.
What does a high-power pose look like? It’s a pose that takes up space. Instead of becoming smaller by folding your arms or crossing your legs, you become larger. You stand or sit up straight. You open your chest area. You may even raise your arms or take the “Wonder Woman pose,” which means putting your fists on your hips.
Cuddy says instead of “fake it ‘til you make it,” you should “fake it until you become it.”
University of Houston research professor Brené Brown, PhD, collected stories on joy and gratitude for research. In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brown writes, “Without exception, every person I interviewed who described living a joyful life or who described themselves as joyful, actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice.”
Numerous studies indicate that a gratitude practice can enhance overall well-being. You can practice and express gratitude often and easily by writing a thank-you note to someone you appreciate or simply stopping for a minute to feel gratitude for your present moment.
If you feel like you’ve been overcome by a negative attitude, gratitude might be a solution for changing that tune. This brief meditation by Brother David Steindl-Rast reminds you to be grateful for nearly every aspect of your day.
Find an accountability buddy and begin a simple gratitude practice. You can text or email each other every evening with your top three moments of gratitude from the day. By looking back on the day’s highlights, you’re helping to overcome your brain’s natural negativity bias.
Have you ever tried to “grin and bear it” in a stressful situation? Did you notice that your grin helped you manage the moment with more ease?
Research out of the University of Kansas indicates that by smiling, subjects were able to mitigate the harmful effects of stress. In other words, forcing yourself to smile might trick your body into handling stress with more ease.
Do you need any inspiration to help put a smile on your face? Reader’s Digest online offers an excellent online resource for jokes. The jokes are divided into various categories, like “Dad Jokes” and “Halloween Jokes for Kids,” so that you can find the perfect joke for any particular moment.
If you’re feeling upset, anxious, or stressed, it is wise to rely on self-compassion to ease your suffering. One way to practice compassion for yourself is by imagining being in the presence of a compassionate image. This image can be a person, an animal, a symbol, a religious figure, or a place that cultivates the feelings of groundedness, caring, strength, and warmth.
University of Derby psychologist and researcher Paul Gilbert, PhD, developed compassion-focused therapy (CFT). CFT aims to improve overall well-being through compassion toward oneself and others, and Dr. Gilbert uses compassionate imagery with his patients. You can try out one of Gilbert’s guided compassionate image visualization exercise on SoundCloud.
Notice what happens when you smile when you’re not particularly happy, stand up straight and tall when you’re lacking confidence, and nurture yourself with compassionate imagery. Are you able to trick your mind into a different feeling? Try on the experiment, and see what happens.
Ready to reduce your stress and start meditating, but don’t know where to start? Deepak Chopra guides you in creating a simple, personalized practice in our Primordial Sound Meditation Online Course. Learn More.