A new study has concluded that when people fake a smile, their mood worsens.
This intrigues me, because I’m generally a pretty happy/optimistic person and I always thought that if you smile and make the best out of things, your mood will improve. Until a few months ago, that is.
As most of you know, I basically turned my life upside down last summer. I ended just about everything, in some sort of mid-life crisis, went on a two-week roadtrip, and began making changes. (I’m hopefully too young for it to be mid-life, but if it is, that’s all the more reason to take the plunge — time’s running out!) Most people thought I’d gone nuts, and I was often among them. I treaded water for a while, alternating between thoughts of, “I’m freeee!” and, “Oh my god, what is going to become of me?”
I still don’t really know what is going to become of me, but I’ve moved, I’ve gotten a new job, and I’m trying to figure out how to reach a couple other lifelong goals. The move has had its pangs, because I’m further away from friends and I’m feeling a little alone.
Through all the changes and the uncertainty, I had one form of confirmation that I hadn’t gone completely nuts. People told me, “You look happier.” At first I thought nothing of it, because a vacation always refreshes the soul. But as weeks and then months passed, I kept hearing that same message from different people: “You’re happier.”
I never thought of myself as being truly unhappy. Sure, the moments of unhappiness were much more frequent, but they’d gradually snuck up on me. Now I look back and I see myself in that study — I was faking the smiles and thinking everything would be fine. The truth is, I was dying inside.
A friend of mine came across a quote recently by George Eliot: “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” It’s also never too late to find a way to genuinely smile. It’s good for the soul.