Does Acting Happy Make You Happier?
Researchers have recently found that the way we walk, the way we sit, and even how we interact with strangers can all influence our mood and perhaps even alleviate depression. In one of the most recent studies from Germany, “the researchers changed gait patterns of test persons (39 students) so that their gait was either more cheerful or more depressed than normally.”
And what they found was that the way you move can determine happiness. Dr. Michalak, one of the authors of the study, states that the study “substantiates the assumption that the way we move affects the way we process positive or negative information.”
Moving For Happiness
Essentially, if you walk in a happier manner (more swinging of arms, head up), you remember less negative words. If you walk more dejectedly, (hands held close, looking down, shuffling), then you are more likely to recall negative words, which is seen as an indicator for depression.
Genuinely feeling our bodies through movement can help us to keep from being stuck in our heads and shift us from a “stuck” emotional place. When you are living in your body and not your mind, you can experience a connection with a person or even a sunset very differently.
There are, of course, times when we are genuinely tired and need rest, and in those cases, we can allow our bodies to do so. Yet there are other times when movement may really help to energize or shift a depression or depressed mood.
This difference – being in the body versus the head – means that we are no longer thinking, questioning, or analyzing every minute. For instance, notice how you feel while you are dancing, for example, versus when you are sitting and thinking. Having that break from our thoughts gives us the chance to see that we are more than our thoughts. That alone can help to free us from a cycle of depression or depressed moods.
Shaking, especially, is a great way for people to relieve:
• Frustration, or…
Or simply to help us to feel better.
Shaking is one of my favorite ways of shifting things for me, whether it be emotional or physical.
Dogs are wonderful role models to demonstrate this. Have you ever noticed how when a dog gets up they tend to stretch and then to give themselves a shake?
The human mind is a Universe all of its own, and just as complex, maybe even more so than the cosmos. That’s why who you choose to talk to on issues that matter to you, can make all the difference.
One other way to find ways to be happy is to talk to a trusted psychotherapist about how you’re feeling. Like me, they might recommend movement or a brisk walk as an antidote. A good therapist will also walk you through your thoughts and feelings allowing you to see the underlying concerns and issues that detract from a rich and full life.
My wish for you is that you move into your joy.