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It's Act Happy Week! How Do You Do?
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It\'s Act Happy Week! How Do You Do?

Well, who would have thought that we would have an Act Happy week. What’s the point? Well, firstly acting happy has its affect on you – when your physicality (smile on your mouth, strong body language) looks happy, your physiology changes to match. Your eyes begin to twinkle and your brain begins to look for positives in a situation rather than the negative. People will be drawn to you, and want to join in with whatever it is you are doing.

Now I know there will be those out there who would question this. And the reason you would question it is that you have never tried it. I challenge you to do so.

You may tell me that you’ve had no choice in some situations; that you acted happy, but did not feel it, and that none of the things I mention above happened. But I would answer that you weren’t truly ‘acting happy’. You may have had a smile on your face when you didn’t feel it. You may have made pleasant conversation with someone when you didn’t want to. But none of these things constitute ‘acting happy’, which is an overall effect – including how you feel inside.

But surely ‘acting’ means outside appearance, not within? I don’t think so. When an actor ‘acts’, the whole being is used – temporarily and in a controlled way – but still the whole being.

Working with children for 20 years I sometimes had to ‘act happy’ when I did not feel it. What I noticed most of all, in my own practice and in the practice of others I assessed for qualifications, was the affect of a person’s happiness on the children and/or other adults in the room.

More often than not, if a person was not ‘acting happy’; smiling, talking, making eye contact, sitting up straight, being willing to sit with them, offering to engage in whatever activity was on offer…the children would assume it to be their fault. They don’t like me. I must be naughty. I can’t be friends with them. From talking to adults in Counselling scenarios over the years, adults respond in the same way. It is well known that insecure attachments in babies are formed if a mother is depressed…i.e. not smiling, not making eye contact, not making any contact with their child. Just by making simple changes, you can make such a difference to a child’s day, and ultimately how they feel about themselves in the world. If simply ‘acting happy’ can make those changes for you and for those around you, why wouldn’t you do it? Even as an experiment to prove me wrong?

So now I challenge everyone. Especially those of you who would say ‘Act Happy Week’ is a stupid idea. Go out today and for the rest of the week. Make a conscious effort to put your shoulders back and head up. Make a conscious effort to smile at everyone you come across, even if…especially if…that person represents an threat or difficulty for you. Make a conscious effort to talk pleasantly to everyone, and make a conscious effort to make them feel special. I have done this lots in the past, and still do it now. By the end of the week, not only will you have had a better week than anticipated, but your body will feel good and your mind will wonder why you never did this before.

And what if you come across people and situations that are unpleasant? We all have these situations in our lives. It is the way we respond to them that makes the difference…to us…to our families. Why would you want to make the rest of your family miserable, simply because that is how you feel? The more you feel like not ‘acting happy’, the more worthwhile it will be to experiment it is to see what effect it has…on you…and on others. It will take practice at first…especially in the most difficult situations, but it will have an effect…positively…on you and on those you come into contact with.

New age gurus will tell you that ‘you are what you think’ and that the lighter your vibes, the more positive things you will draw to you. The amazing thing is that this is the philosophy of more scientific approaches as well. The NHS’s favourite counselling method of the moment CBT, of which I am a qualified practitioner, tells us that when we change our thought processes we change out behaviour and so our physiology changes to match. If we make positive changes, what we look for and find out in the world in turn is more positive, thereby creating more positive changes in us…it becomes a cycle of change.

Of course, the cynics would suggest that it isn’t that more positive things happen, but that they simply are noticed more. I say, so what? What’s the difference? Especially if it makes you or someone around you feel more positive with life? With themselves? Isn’t that a gift? I think it is.

Smiling is contagious…pass it on!

Street Talk

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