At the center of the transformation was a smile. If you don’t feel happy, “fake it until you make it” means smiling to act like you’re happy until you start smiling because you really are happy. And the more the better. That means you don’t just smile. You smile like a monkey with a new banana.
Reach the state
There’s some truth to that idea. Emotions are fickle things; one minute you’re up, and the next you’re down. They come and go with the moment.
That’s why you should focus on being rather than feeling. Far too many focus what they do on feeling happy. But far better than feeling happy is actually being happy, not the emotion but the state.
Outside circumstances can lead us to feel happy. You just won the lottery, or (far more probable) you just achieved a major goal, like getting engaged or receiving a promotion at work or finding someone to buy your old home after moving to a new area or losing those stubborn pounds around your mid-section. Most people in any one of these circumstances would feel happy.
But outside circumstances can change like the wind, and so the emotions we connect to them are likewise just as transient. That’s why you don’t want to focus on feeling happy. You want to be happy.
Align outside and in
But how do you go past the emotion to reach the state? How do we be happy rather than just feel happy?
That’s where “fake it till you make it” comes into play. Just as emotions are tied to outside circumstances, your state is tied to inward circumstances. That means your choices can influence your state.
And strangely enough, those actions begin by adjusting your exterior. You then align your interior to match. To be happy, adjust your exterior to be happy, even if it feels like a show. By persisting in that show long enough, you’ll align your interior to match.
But let’s go one step further. If you can choose, independent of your outside circumstances, to change your state on the inside, why go halfway? Why do anything half baked? Why not go all the way? Why settle for just being sort of happy when you can be beaming happy?
So if you’re going to adopt a happy state by smiling until the smile is genuine, why would you grimace or just crack a smile? Don’t just smile. Smile like a monkey with a new banana.
But what happened to living the gospel? Don’t the scriptures say you can’t be happy if you’re wicked (Alma 41:10)? But if you can just change your state with choices you make, couldn’t the wicked just choose to do that and be happy in their wickedness?
I’ve heard many a Latter-day Saint stand in testimony meeting and testify that the only true happiness in life comes from keeping the commandments. I mostly agree with that. I say mostly because the way some people talk about it, they seem to indicate you can’t be happy without living all the commandments, meaning singles (who by definition are not living the commandment to marry) can never be happy.
I’ve declared many times on this program that LDS singles can experience joy in their lives regardless of their circumstances, and I stand by that declaration. It’s exactly for situations like this that we have the Atonement. Christ will do what you cannot once you’ve done all you can do (2 Nephi 25:23). If you’re doing your best, you can be happy despite the shortness of your own sincere efforts.
So smile like a monkey with a new banana! When you do your best to do what’s right and then you “fake it until you make it,” you put yourself on the road to being happy and not just feeling happy. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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