Who doesn't want to be happier? I took a walk on this beautiful, balmy winter day today and suddenly a light-bulb went off in my mind. It has to do with this principle:
Your mind affects your body and your body affects your mind
Mind affecting body:
Consider this: when someone has just won a race, what do they do? They smile and throw their arms up in the air. Does the person who comes in last (or even 2nd place) do this? Probably not.
Another case in point: when you're depressed, do you tend to have more of an upright or slouched posture?
Body affecting mind:
I remember hearing a story on NPR done on scientists who studied facial expressions. The lead researchers had their graduate students making every variation of facial expression so that they could make a comprehensive catalogue of facial movements. I remember one graduate student saying that the students had a great time on the days they did "happier" expressions, and a gloomier time making "sadder" expressions.
So, even though many of us are more familiar with the idea that our mind or mood affects our body, how we use our body definitely affects our mind.
Here's how this can make you a happier person in just 5 minutes a day:
I have three activities for you that are guaranteed to improve your mood, even if you're feeling as gloomy as a wet blanket on a foggy day. Here's your recipe:
One minute:Fake it 'till you make it. Smile as big and goofy a smile as you can for a full minute. If you're afraid of looking silly, do it someplace private, like a bathroom. It helps if you also visualize the shape of a smile in your mind.
One minute:Be like Santa. Stand like Santa, hold your belly, and make short, rhythmic laughing sounds. Check out this YouTube video on laughter Yoga.
One minute:Skipping makes you happy. Think about it - have you ever seen someone skipping and crying?
Two minutes: Put it all together. If you have the space, try skipping, smiling, and making laughing sounds all the same time. If you want to share the love, don't be afraid to do this in public! You will only bring joy to the people around you. They might also think you're crazy, but they'll be smiling while they think that!
Perhaps you believe some of these suggestions are beneath your dignity. However, I believe that holding onto our dignity often leads to unhappiness. Let yourself feel silly, and perhaps some of the thinking patterns and bodily habits that keep you down will ease up.
In conclusion, even if you don't go around your own neighborhood skipping and laughing, try at least one of these suggestions for 5 minutes a day. I feel confident it'll boost your mood.