M. Hunt, (1986, June). Beat your bad moods for good. Reader’s Digest.
Psychologists and psychotherapists now believe that acting a part can help us feel the way we want to feel-more self-assured in a trying situation, more cheerful when things go wrong.
UCLA psychologist Paul Elkman and two colleagues experimented with volunteers. The volunteers made six facial expressions that described a certain emotion: sadness, surprise, disgust, anger, fear, and happiness. Much to their surprise, when the volunteers acted out these emotions, their bodies looked as if they were actually feeling that way. When volunteers acted out anger their heart rates and skin temperatures rose. Michael Canpus, a martial arts teacher who uses this technique, notes, “Many of us already apply this principle without realizing it.” “Smile,” we urge a tearful child, and unwillingly the child smiles-and is cheered up.”
Strategies to Beat Bad Moods
- Smile to cheer yourself up
Do not be half-hearted about it. Really make an effort. Next, laugh. Reading aloud is also beneficial. Read with expression-read things that convey good moods.
- Relax to reduce anxiety or fear
Morton Hunt notes, “Relaxation quickly brings a marked reduction in heart and breathing rates, oxygen consumption, and levels of blood lactate, a substance suspected of stimulating anxiety attacks.”
- Look your best to increase your self-confidence
Looking good will make others readier to accept your message and it will keep you believing in yourself.
- Keep cool in a crisis
Keep your movements smooth and steady, not hasty or jerky. Adds Hunt, “Panic is contagious; so is calmness.”
- We need to understand our own behavior to help others overcome their moods.
- There may be a deeper root causing the mood. We need to raise the depression level but not dismiss the root of the problem.
- Attitude affects behavior and behavior can affect attitude. This can be more complex than what appears on the surface. Be willing to be patient as it is explored.
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