There’s such a back lash about being fake these days. Fake people, fake designer labels, fake emotions. We all can be such hypocrites, don’t you think? We tar others with the “fake” brush and then paint ourselves lavishly using the other hand fitting into socially acceptable behaviours, jobs, clothes and reactions that may not be who we truly are.
So when is being fake a good thing? I have a great tool I use which involves being whole-heartedly fake.
Let’s take a look at it.
How does it work?
Your brain controls a myriad of actions in your body. From basic motor skills like picking up your cup of coffee, walking one foot after the other or speaking the words you planned to say. There are a lot of things it doesn’t control too though and, generally speaking, it knows when to step aside and let other areas of the body do their thing. One great example I’m using in my online video Stress and Burnout course at the moment is the Fight or Flight reaction.
When you’re under stress this reaction kicks in more often than it should which can cause you to mouth off at someone unnecessarily, have more accidents, exhaust yourself by doing nothing in particular or cut yourself off from your intuition so your decisions become less wise.
Let’s come back to that Being Fake business again though.
The fact your brain has the option of stepping aside and following your instincts can be a very useful thing.
When you’re in trauma, grieving a loss, under depression, feeling powerless, it’s really hard to turn it around to the positive. And maybe there is use in allowing yourself some time to sitting down there in the lowest of moods for a while. No one can tell us exactly how much time is beneficial.
The turning around part is what can be helped here though because if you fake smiles and laughter you can trick your body into believing you’re doing better than you are. Then your body assumes things are going better and it relaxes, allowing you to feel better really and truly.
The most dramatic example I used this for in my own life was when my husband left unexpectedly. I didn’t even know where he was so I was worried for his safety as well as feeling the abandonment and betrayal.
I don’t think I smiled for at least 2 or 3 weeks. My face became heavy and inactive. It was similar to my legs when I was bed-ridden for 5 weeks with glandular fever as a teenager. All strength disappeared and it took some time to build up strength and flexibility again. Your face does the same thing.
So the idea came to me that each time I walked past a mirror, or saw my reflection in a shiny surface, I would smile a radiant smile… fake as hell.
I also smiled all through my showers. Somehow the warm water made it easier for my facial muscles to do what I was bidding.
Have you ever noticed when a young child is crying hard they might take the opportunity to look in the mirror and observe what they look like? They want to see if it gets the message across perhaps. Does it look dramatic enough? Is it communicating how they really feel?
When we look in the mirror we remember what we see as well. Sometimes we are only determined to see one thing in the mirror that proves our expectations, like a bulging or a flat tummy for example. We remember our face and the mood it shows too though.
Even if you aren’t looking in the mirror your brain feels and reacts to what’s happening in your body. So by smiling and laughing, your body relaxes (which is great for stress and anxiety) and starts to feel lighter.
It worked for me. By faking the smile every time I looked in the mirror my own mood lightened and I began to get my brain back so I could think more logically about what steps needed to be made. It may work for you too.
Laughter is the best medicine
Smiling is only a small improvement compared to laughter, however.
Laughing while standing in groups has been around since 1000 BC but in modern times it was given a more formal format in India about 1995. Research says it’s 30 times easier to laugh with others than by yourself which is how you can get a TV sit-com audience to laugh at the least funny things around. Listening to such an audience, or even canned pre-recorded laughter, makes it more likely you’ll think it’s funny when you watch the same show at home.
“Laughter is the best medicine” can help your body and mind in a myriad of ways. It can raise your immunity, boost your health, relax your muscles including your mind which will open up your intuition allowing you to see things with greater clarity and make wiser decisions.
One awesome case I’ve heard of was Norman Cousins who was diagnosed as terminally ill and given 6 months to live in 1964. He managed to heal himself completely through laughter and lived on till 1991. His books are listed below.
These laughter clubs start with some basic body exercises to gently warm up your muscles then you get into different types of laughter. Standing in a group with a bunch of people faking a laugh, you’ll find it will only take a few minutes before you feel real laughter welling up inside you. It’s the ultimate feel-good way to start or finish a day.
Swap this for one of your weekly exercise routines, set a weekly session up in your office, swap it for your least favourite television show and watch what happens…
Laughter Yoga class with Robert Rivest (got me going)