Archive for July, 2012

There is a saying which goes, “Fake it until you make it”. It is not one of my favorites and I have often been tempted to dispute it. It’s the ‘fake it’ part that bothers me as it seems inauthentic.

This past weekend I attended the inaugural conference for the Canadian Positive Phycology Association in Toronto. There were a number of impressive presentations all leaving me with a desire for more learning and immense sense of curiosity. One of my favorites was the opening keynote address by Dr. Greg Wells a neurophysiologist from the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, skyped in from the Olympic Village in London. (Watch for him as part of the CTV broadcast team). He covered a number of topics within the context of his presentation. One of the pieces that stuck with me was ‘act-think-feel’ – you guessed right, fake it until you make it.

In his work with athletes and the mind-body connection, research has demonstrated that what you show on the outside is replicated on the inside. The two key variables which have been researched are smiling and posture.

You have all heard the other phrase, ‘smile and the world smiles with you.” While that theory has not been examined scientifically, the reality is that when you smile, outwardly, your inner world begins to smile. You lighten up and your attitude shifts. When you act – smile, you begin to think and feel differently. Your smile activates a physiological response that makes you feel better.

Remember your mother saying, “Johnny or Jane, stand up straight!” It really annoyed you because you were a teenager and slouching was simply cool. Well it turns out that slouching is not only bad for your posture, it’s bad for your attitude and your health.

The second part of the act-think-feel equation is that standing tall, stretching your height upward and elongating your torso, makes you feel better about you. It is almost impossible to think positively about yourself and feel the resulting emotions if you slouch and slink. Stretching upward enhances your esteem and boosts your confidence.

Step outside yourself for a moment and begin to notice others. Imagine for a moment the person who is frowning, slouching and slinking. What is your response to them? Do they appear positive or confident? No they don’t. You are probably judging them and wondering why such an attractive person wouldn’t stand tall and occasionally smile.

Here’s your choice point – start acting different yourself. Decide each morning to begin the day with a smile, even if it does feel fake. Just plaster it on and then notice:

  1. How you feel about yourself as the day goes on
  2. How others respond to you

Next, begin to check your posture. You don’t want to stand military style; you simply want to stand tall, as if there was a pulley attached to the crown of your head stretching you upward. As you elongate your posture, your shoulders naturally pull back a bit, you can breathe more easily, your chest opens up, you are more receptive, and others will notice.

As a former physiotherapist, there are numerous other advantages to improved posture, including preventing long term back issues and, for women as they age, that ‘dowager’s hump’. Remember, checking in with your posture and standing tall, supports what you think and feel and positively affects how your brain functions.

As you tune into the Olympics this summer, watch the athletes as they prepare for their event. You will see intense concentration; you will see them correct their posture and stand tall, and if you are lucky you may catch a smile or two.

Most importantly, check in with yourself and begin today to smile more and to stand tall. Do your own research project – begin every day with a smile and by stretching your head to the sky. Do both regularly each day and notice what changes or shifts in your energy, confidence and esteem. I guarantee you will feel better and your thoughts will be more positive. Notice how others respond to you and when that friend says to you, ‘what are you smiling about?’ simply say, smiling is changing my world inside and out – want to join me?

It’s really up to you.

Until next time,


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