Act As If

Recently a friend who was on my show used a phrase that has really stuck with me… in the course of our conversation in talking about how to keep your spirits up even when it seems like life has thrown you a curve ball she said – that every time her spirits started to wane (in her job search) she would – as she said, Act As If… act as if it was going to be okay, act as if you had the courage to do the job, act as if you were in the job of your dreams. Just that mind set of Act As If – can change the way your currently feel about a situation.

That’s an interesting phrase – to Act As If … I like it because it is memorable, hopeful and positive and gives me a sense of forward motion – so I’m going to put into play in my own life.

How about you – instead of seeing everything that is wrong with a situation – would if you were to Act As If it will go right or better in the direction you were hoping for.

  • When you don’t feel well – Act As If you do
  • When your heart is broken – Act As If you can get by – just taking it one day at a time
  • When the dark thoughts of depression start to cloud your judgment – Act As If you’re on the other side of the depressed state.

For some reason I woke up thinking about the Happiness Project – by Gretchen Rubin – and the title of her book is – The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun… Gretchen Rubin is considered one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness. Her books Happier at Home and The Happiness Project were both instant New York Times bestsellers, and The Happiness Project has spent more than two years on the bestseller list. She writes about her adventures as she test-drives the studies and theories about how to be happier.

The book cover says, Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm (I can attest to that); and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

You can buy her book on Amazon.com or you can go online to: happiness-project.com and take some of her quizzes and sign up for a dose of happiness daily – What I really like are her 21-day projects – just a good mind bender to get you to think differently about your life.

On her site she has a section called Tips and Quizzes – in glancing over some of the things she talks about I love her Quiz – Are You the Kind of Person Who Divides the World into Two Kinds of People–Or the Other Kind?

She asks – Are you an alchemist or a leopard?

An Alchemists seek ways to change or re-direct our fundamental natures; we’re dissatisfied with ourselves; we’re often tempted to behave, and make choices, that don’t comport with who we really are.

Leopards on the other hand don’t try to change their spots. They know who they are, and they don’t worry about everything they aren’t.

Another one I liked – Are you a radiator or a drain?

She says, More and more, it seems to me that energy is an enormously helpful clue as to whether a person, activity, or place is a happiness-booster, or not.

She goes on to say, I find it’s useful to ask: “Does this person make me feel energized?” or “Does this activity, though intimidating and frustrating, make me feel more energetic in the long run?”

Perhaps counter-intuitively, in her experience, some people who are quite low-energy nevertheless act as radiators–because it’s not their personal verve that matters, but their level of engagement and quality of their ideas. And some people who are very high-energy and gung-ho end up being drains, because they somehow make things harder instead of easier, or put a damper on other people’s observations and ideas.

Another one I like is – Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore

If you’re a Tigger, you say things like…“Happiness is a choice.” “Look on the bright side.” “Smile!” “Fake it ‘till you feel it.”

If you’re an Eeyore, you say things like…“No one can be cheerful all the time. It’s fake.” “Thinking the glass is always half-full isn’t realistic. It’s self-deception.” “If someone asks me, ‘How are you?’ I’m going to tell the truth, even if people don’t want an honest answer.” “Authenticity is important to me. I hate phonies.”

Gretchen Rubin’s advice for Tigger’s is remember, you can’t make someone happy. Let your happiness naturally rub off on the Eeyore’s, but don’t exhaust yourself trying to jolly them along. Telling Eeyore’s “Cheer up!” or refusing to acknowledge anything negative won’t make them cheerier. Your effort will just drain you, and it will irritate the Eeyore’s – in fact, they’ll probably hold more stubbornly to their worldview, and may become even more intensely negative to counterbalance your positivity. The opposite of what you want!

Her advice for Eeyore’s remembers, you believe you’re being “realistic” and “honest,” but Tigger’s may find you gloomy and critical. Because your downbeat emotions are catching (a phenomenon called “emotional contagion”), they dread being sucked into your negativity.

Remember, too, that while you believe that some Tigger’s are “fake,” their extreme cheerfulness may be in reaction to you – yes, you may be inciting the very Tiggerness that is driving you crazy! – as a counter-balance against your attitudes; or the extreme cheerfulness may be in reaction to some major happiness challenge elsewhere in their lives. Cut them a little slack.

She goes on to say, Research and experience show that the “fake it ‘till you feel it” strategy really does work. People who act happier, friendlier, and more energetic will help themselves feel happier, friendlier, and more energetic (the opposite is also true).   These questions are from the book the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin…

Ms. Rubin – could not have said it better than our phrase today – Act As If…and I hope you will for your sake and those around you who are looking to you for leadership, hope, friendship and love.

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