WTF Fun Fact 13035 – The Truth of Fake It Til You Make It

The last thing any unhappy person wants to hear is “smile,” “cheer up,” or “can’t you just try to be happy?” The answer to all of those requests is usually “no.” But once those people leave the room, you may just want to try it out next time you’re grumpy. It turns out there’s some truth to the whole “fake it til you make it” thing.

Smile though your heart is aching

It’s hard, perhaps impossible even, to smile all the time. But if you’re in a bad mood and you’d rather not be (and let’s face it, sometimes we want to wallow), your physiology can sometimes affect your mood.

In other words, smiling may help you change your emotional trajectory.

According to Psychology Today (cited below):

“This might sound odd, as convention dictates that when you are happy, you smile and laugh, and when you are sad, you frown and cry. However, it turns out that the relationship between your emotions and your behavior is a little more reciprocal than that. This means that if you force a smile when you are feeling down, you will lift your mood, and alternatively, if you frown when you are happy, you will feel down.”

Fake it til you make it

This is based on real research, not just a web column. In fact, it’s based on a review of over 100 research studies that showed a connection between people faking a mood and then recording how they felt afterward. Researchers showed that to some small extent “an individual’s experience of emotion is influenced by feedback from their facial movements.” It’s called the facial feedback hypothesis.

This tracks with another principle called the Hebbian theory, or Hebb’s Law, stating that “neurons that fire together wire together.” (However, Hebb’s Law has more to do with learning.)

The point is that if you can muster a smile and even a joyful tone, you can trick your brain into releasing some of those happy chemicals. (There’s also the possibility that the people around you will be happier. And this tends to make situations more pleasant too.)

We’re not saying you should force a smile all the time. But if you’re looking to lift your mood, the answer lies inside you.

Providing facial feedback

The facial feedback hypothesis is partly based on the work of Charles Darwin, who noted that facial expressions can affect a person’s emotional experience. And since Darwin was deeply depressed for much of his life, we imagine he tried it for himself on more than one occasion.

Researchers have tried to see if smiling helps improve mood without even asking a person to fake a grin. They just had subjects put a pe between their teeth to make the right muscles move. Moods lifted. A pen between the lips tended to lessen the cheer, however, since that activated frowning muscles.

And the effect doesn’t appear to be limited to smiling either – posture can help. Unslumping shoulders, standing up straight, and holding your head up all help. These actions can make it easier to engage with people in a positive way, improving your mood. It also helps with confidence (and first impressions).

Some version of the “fake it til you make it” adage has been around for a long time. For example, philosopher William James once wrote: “If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.”

Of course, that doesn’t make it ok to tell someone to smile.  WTF fun facts

Source: “How “Fake It ‘Till You Make It” Really Is a Thing” — Psychology Today

WTF Fun Fact 12432 – Spring Fever

The dawn of spring brings mixed feelings and physical reactions. While some poets have long written about “spring fever” as something associated with romance, pleasure, and good spirits, others find March to be a little more gloomy.

You won’t find a doctor diagnosing you with spring fever, but if you notice a change in mood or energy as the days get longer, you’re not alone.

Many people welcome the dawn of spring weather and the return of sunshine. Their ability to spend more time outside is a mood-booster, and they feel restless to get things done after a long and dark winter. Interestingly, these good moods tend to decrease in the hot summer months.

Other less ideal symptoms of this so-called “spring fever” can include an increased heart rate, appetite loss, and mood swings.

Then there are those for whom spring is a curse and who might think of spring fever as the bad kind of fever. There may be some truth to this as well. Some experience a more depressed mood and lack of energy at the start of spring as their bodies adjust. One theory is that the body has used up so much of its serotonin reserves by the end of winter that it leaves people depleted. The return of sunlight helps re-make this serotonin, but the physical process and the hormonal fluctuations involved can cause lethargy.

Some researchers have even hypothesized that rising temperatures cause blood vessels to expand and lead to a drop in blood pressure, leading to headaches. Then there are the people who suffer from “reverse seasonal affective disorder.” The list of spring maladies goes on and on.

However, fever isn’t typically a symptom of any of these reactions, so spring “fever” is more of a nickname.

And don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the allergy sufferers! For so many of us, spring pollen and the swirling of dust particles that occurs as we open our windows again can be a real downer. While allergies don’t cause a fever either, sinus infections can. – WTF fun facts 

Source: “Does “Spring Fever” Exist?” — Scientific American