You’re in a bad mood and feeling shy, but you’re about to step into a professional meeting and you need to shape up. If this is the case, you should “fake it until you feel it,” according to social psychologists and happiness experts. Research shows that simply changing your voice and body language can have a big impact on your mood and even success.
Change your voice, change your emotions
Modifying the tone of your voice can affect your own mood—and possibly even change the mood of those around you, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers came to this conclusion after they recorded peoples’ voices, manipulated the tone and replayed it for them (for who?). Each person tended to adopt the new emotion they heard in their recorded voice, whether it sounded happier, sadder or more fearful. Next time you’re feeling gloomy, talk to someone cheerfully. Chances are, you’ll be feeling better by the end of the conversation.
Act the way you want to feel
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, calls it her Third Commandment: “Act the way I want to feel.” By doing so, you induce that emotion in yourself, she writes. And this isn’t a new concept. Philosopher and psychologist William James wrote 100 years ago, “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.”
Studies support Rubin and James’s thinking. For example, one experiment suggested people who use Botox are less prone to anger because they can’t make frowning faces. So when you feel shy, act friendly. When you feel irritated, act lovingly.
Change your body language, boost your success
Adopting a “Wonder Woman” power pose will compensate for fears, says social psychologist Amy Cuddy in her popular TED talk. “Your body language shapes who you are,” says Cuddy. It affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves.
“Do a little audit of your body,” Cuddy advises. “Are you making yourself smaller, wrapping your legs, folding your arms? If you tweak it a little bit [and] open up your body into a power pose, you could see a significant change in how your life unfolds.”
So next time you’re presenting something new to your boss and feel insecure about it, modify your voice to a more upbeat tone, walk into a room like you own it and smile confidently—then watch these changes ramp up the vibe in your life.