A lot of self-help advice advocates faking happiness, in order to become happy. If you’re in a bad mood, you should pretend to be happy, and that will make you happier for real. You should force a smile, force yourself to focus on the positive, chat with others in a friendly way or similar.
It’s often called “fake it till you make it”.
I honestly don’t believe that’s how it works, and now there’s some evidence to support this view:
…scientists tracked a group of bus drivers for two weeks, focusing on them because their jobs require frequent, and generally courteous, interactions with many people.
The scientists examined what happened when the drivers engaged in fake smiling, known as “surface acting”…
After following the drivers closely, the researchers found that on days when the smiles were forced, the subjects’ moods deteriorated and they tended to withdraw from work. Trying to suppress negative thoughts, it turns out, may have made those thoughts even more persistent.
So what does work? Finding actual (you might say real) reasons to be happy:
…on days when the subjects tried to display smiles through deeper efforts — by actually cultivating pleasant thoughts and memories — their overall moods improved and their productivity increased.
So if you’re having a crappy day at work don’t just fake happiness – find reasons to be happy. And if that doesn’t work, go ahead and have a crappy day. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that and we all do it regularly.
Now, if you have a crappy month, on the other hand…