Can Faking it Bring You Happiness?

maskWe’ve been told that we can make ourselves happy and joyful by “faking” it until it becomes real.

A recent study published in Psychological Science found just the opposite to be true, at least when it comes to wearing fake designer sunglasses.

People wear fake designer items to build their self-esteem and appear affluent. This study showed that people wearing fake designer sunglasses not only feel less authentic but also influenced their judgment of other people’s unethical behavior.

The researchers, Gino, Norton, and Ariely, conducted four experiments in which participants wore purportedly fake or authentically branded sunglasses. The subjects who were wearing fake sunglasses cheated more across multiple tasks than those wearing authentic sunglasses, leading to the conclusion that the costs of counterfeits was deception.

Of course taking steps to make yourself feel happier is not quite the same as wearing fake sunglasses to give yourself status.

Those who support positive thinking believe that you can increase your happiness by repeating positive affirmations with conviction until you convince your own subconscious.

Positive psychology studies have found that there are many things we can do to increase our own happiness. Some of these are expressing gratitude, focusing on what is going on now rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, and staying connected with supportive family and friends.

Then there are those in the mental health field who believe that repeating positive affirmations or focusing on the good in our lives, only delays us from confronting the imbalances that are causing us to be unhappy or depressed. They believe that our time would be better spent in receiving therapy or taking medication to correct the chemical imbalances.

Spiritual healers believe that our outer experience is determined by our inner beliefs, thoughts and vibrations. No matter what we do on the outside, we can’t fool our insides. They believe that everything is energy. Whatever we send out into the world in the form of energy is what we attract back to us. So, if we want to improve the outcomes in our lives we have to increase the energy vibrations we are sending out.

Throughout history we’ve been told we can alter our mood by putting on a happy face, singing in the rain and whistling in the dark.

Are we faking it when we are being proactive in creating and maintaining happiness?

What is your take on this?

Celebrate Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th

momMany of us begin the year making resolutions, but within a few weeks our promises to ourselves have been forgotten.

A Wall Street Journal article shared plans some people made to help them stick to their resolutions. Some kept their goals small and achievable. Others asked friends to help them stay on track by holding them accountable. Others found success when they changed their environment to support their new behavior.

Here we are at the start of the second half of the year. How did you do with your resolutions this year?

Regardless of how you fared in this annual practice, here’s an opportunity to start anew.

On August 9th join me in celebrating the first “Color Your Life Happy Day”, a day to participate in something you enjoy, some activity that will make you happy and others too. Then make a decision to make it a habit to continue finding joy, pleasure, a way to help others for the rest of the year.

Happiness is not a destination, but the things we do along the way as we live our lives. At the end of their lives, many wish they had slowed down, worked less and spent more time enjoying family, friends and fun activities. Don’t let this be you. Regrets are a waste. Do the things that bring you joy and happiness everyday.

This special celebration was inspired by the memory of my mother, Mildred S. Morris, who would have turned 100 years old on August 9, 2010 (she passed at age 92 in 2002.) She spent her life making people happy with her music. She played piano and organ from childhood through her mid 80’s for many churches, organizations and events. Everyone who ever heard her play was touched by her lively and fervent style.

I invite you to join me in celebrating Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th. Then between August 10th-15th send me a photo or video of how you celebrated to my email at flora@florabrown.com

You may choose to enjoy a simple pleasure such as taking time off to read a neglected book. You may join the courageous who use this day to get control of the clutter that has been making them very unhappy.

I’m thinking of creating a new vegetable garden or maybe I’ll do some long-neglected scrapbooking.

So get busy thinking of how you will celebrate “Color Your Life Happy Day.” Then on August 9th take a picture showing how you celebrated. Email it to me at flora@florabrown.com with your name, activity, and city/state/country. I will post all entries on my blog and Facebook.

I’m looking forward to the wonderful array of celebrations.

A Key Piece of Happiness: Appreciation

Isn’t it wonderful when we hear a simple truth expressed openly?

That’s the way I felt when I heard the short talk by Laura Trice about the importance of saying thank you and telling our loved ones that we need to hear it.

Like many of us, you may not have gotten the thanks and appreciation you want and need, but you can give and get it now.

Listen to Laura and see if you agree. Then leave your comment below.

Another Day, Another Chance

Everyday we awake to the miracle called life. Instead of rejoicing in it too many of us take it for granteLagunaBeach1-23-10d.

When attending my nephew’s 30th birthday party I said “Happy Birthday! Another birthday, another chance.” The party guests all chuckled at this, but it is so true, not just on our birthdays, of course, but every day.

New Year’s resolutions are a popular practice because we like new beginnings as a time to make changes in our lives. But every day is actually a new beginning; we don’t have to wait 365 days before making changes in our lives.

What changes can we make on a daily basis that will bring us the happiness we all crave?

1. Make small changes in your physical environment. It can do wonders for your perspective, outlook and outcomes.

If the idea of decluttering an entire room, for example,  is as overwhelming to you as it is to me, just clear your desktop or nightstand. Scan those magazines you’ve intended to read and toss. (I’m saying what I need to hear.)

If you work at home,  work in a different area of the house for a change. Creating articles on my patio yields different ideas from the ones I get inside.

Since most of my work is done on my laptop, I find it helpful to my creativity to sometimes go to the library, bookstore, restaurant or coffee shop.

2. Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while or don’t see very often.

Connecting with another person will make a difference to them and to you as well.

I’m fond of email, but for a number of holidays other than Christmas I enjoy sending greeting cards. Even people who don’t make the time to send cards still enjoy receiving them.

3. Take a walk, exercise or meditate for any reason.

I enjoy walking, but when I told myself I needed to do it to lose weight I had to fight inner resistance.

After working indoors for several days in a row, however, I began to crave walking as a breather for my mind. That makes all the difference.

Actors seek to understand a character’s motivation in order to give an authentic performance. Perhaps the right motivation will help you too.

4. Practice giving thanks.

Almost every book on happiness and joy advises showing gratitude. Nothing we own or have achieved came about based solely on our own personal efforts.

A higher power, no matter what name you give it, enables us to awake from sleep, witness the sunrise and sunset and keep a heart beating inside of us. Many of us, no matter what religion, offer prayers of gratitude.

Then there are all the people we’ll never meet who created, manufactured and shipped every material object we enjoy. Acknowledging their contribution in writing or just in our minds is an expression of gratitude.

A company that makes paper bags started the practice of printing on the bag the name of the employee who created it. What a wonderful reminder that a human touch was involved in that product.

I like to think of all the things I’m thankful for as I take my walk.

Closer to us are the people who gave us birth, taught us to read, hired us, married us and so on. Then, there are those who gave us encouragement if only with a smile and those who tolerated our impatience and impudence to train us or give us guidance.  We can show our gratitude with a simple verbal thank you, a written note, a letter of appreciation or more.

In 2007 I had the pleasure of reuniting with a group of friends who were part of a church youth group. We decided to show our appreciation to the couple who volunteered to lead our group back in 1957. They were approaching their 80’s and didn’t want to wait another minute to tell them how much we love and appreciate them. 30 of us gathered from all over the USA in my hometown and at this 50 year reunion celebrated our former youth leaders during a weekend of appreciation activities. We enjoyed dinner parties, brunches, and attended church together. We donated money to set up a college scholarship named for this wonderful couple who made an impact on our lives. We sang a tribute to them and gave them plenty of hugs, kisses and verbal appreciations all weekend.

You may not have the opportunity, desire, or means to produce such an elaborate appreciation, but I urge you not to wait another day to tell someone what a difference he or she has made in your life.

Showing gratitude has tremendous benefits. It connects us to others, it keeps our achievements in proper perspective and it focuses our attention on what we want to multiply.

So, here you are with this day of opportunity, another chance. Which of these changes can you make right now? Or maybe you can make changes that have more meaning for you.

Share the changes you have made.

Originally published January 7, 2009