I once heard that scientific research proved that smiling improved your mood. If you were depressed it wasn't likely to help because there were underlying emotional issues, but if you were in a "blah" mood, the very act of smiling could actually make you happier.
What? Just smiling could make me happier? Sign me up! I don't remember the scientific terminology, but it had to do with the muscles that constrict when you smile, they affected the part of your brain where you experience joy.
This is obviously a crappy interpretation of a very complex scientific study...but I am too lazy to look up the scientific study from 15 years ago.
I've used this trick a lot over the years. I think I perfected it while I worked at Paychex! We had this motto, "You can hear a smile over the phone." and it's totally true. Regardless of my mood, I always made myself sound bright and cheerful when speaking to clients because well, it was my job. No matter what is going on in your personal life, if you are being paid to be happy on the phone, you have to do it.
Well, I guess you don't have to, but I was addicted to doing well on my annual performance reviews.
When I am having a bad day, I try to cheer myself up. I chat with friends, look at funny comics on the Internet, look at old photos from parties and trips, or read inspirational books like Happiness Quotations: Gentle Reminders of Your Preciousness by Erica Nelson. It's full of sweet quotes that are bound to put a smile on your face - a real smile!
Over the years, I have had my fair share of hard times, and I have dealt with a bit of depression here and there. My mom made a comment once that she wondered how I held myself together that way I did. I told her that I just forced myself to get up each morning, put one foot in front of the other...and so on and so forth. I chose to be happy, despite what I was going through.
I do not suffer from any diagnosed mental illnesses, I want to make that clear - I am talking about regular old depression that people deal with when unfortunate circumstances occur. When my mother made that comment, I was dealing with the recent suicide of my daughter's father. I made the conscious decision that I would not let his death take over my life. My daughter wanted and needed to heal and seeing her mother drowning in depression wouldn't help her.
I am not a big fan of complicated, evolved self-help books, or what I consider to be "new-age" books like The Secret. However, I do like books like "Attitude! (For Your Best Lived Life) " by Karen Okulicz. It's about how attitude is the one thing that we can control and maintain to live our best life. That goes right along with my decision to be happy in life. It's a short and sweet book about how to be happy, how to deal with joy-robbers, and how to create the life we want. It's uplifting and inspirational, but it's also very realistic and practical. I also like her book "Decide! How to Make Any Decision!" which is about making decisions and sticking to them. I recently let my sister read my copy of Happiness Quotations and Decide! and she likes them as well. They are inspirational but they are practical enough that they serious books. I recommend them whenever you need a little pick-me-up!
Are there any motivational books that you look to when you need cheering up?
*I received samples of Attitude, Decide and Happiness Quotations. All opinions are my own.