Wellness Word Cloud

Actions create change, not beliefs!

It’s actions that change behaviours and our emotions!


sounds like common sense, but …

Common sense and self help gurus have told us that if you want to improve your life then you need to change how you think and feel and this will change behaviour and change outcomes. Forcing yourself to have a positive attitude will create a happier life. Social media memes support this idea. Positive thinking and / or visualisation of a positive outcome will create increased success. If you think like a millionaire, you’ll become rich! Visualise winning the race and you will. That sounds like common sense to me.

Or experience tells us that emotions affect behavior: when we’re happy, we smile and when sad, frown.

However, in the 1880s, William James became convinced that this commonsense view was not the full story.  James thought the relationship was a two way street.  He thought that the relationship between emotion and behaviour was a two way street. In other words, smiling can make you happy and frowning can make you sad. He said that our fear doesn’t make us run away from a bear, but it’s the actual running that makes us afraid.


Later research…

This idea has been tested. In the 1970s, James Laird asked volunteers to adopt either angry or happy facial expressions. The participants reported feeling much happier when they forced their smiles and much angrier when they frowned and clenched their teeth.
Later research has shown that this effect can apply to many different parts of our lives. By “faking it till you make it”, you can actually become what you are faking…
Another common sense idea is that it’s willpower and determination that helps us to create change in our ives. Just how many good intentions fall foul after New Year’s resolutions are broken?


boost willpower by tensing muscles

Willpower is not enough. But let’s look at this the other way around… motivated people tense their muscles up when they get ready to do something. Can you boost willpower by tensing muscles? A study designed by Iris Hung at the National University of Singapore tested just this. To resist sugary snacks, Hung had the volunteers make a fist or contract their biceps, thereby behaving as if they were more motivated. Incredible as it may seem, this simple exercise made it easier for people to resist sugary foods and eat healthy snacks.


the same applies to self confidence!

  • Try this “power pose”
    • Sit at a desk, put your feet up on the desk, interlace your fingers and put your hands behind your head. Stay like that for a minute. Puff out your chest. How do you feel after the minute…
  • Now try this submission pose:
    • Put your feet on the floor, hands palms up on your knees. Look at the floor.
      Compare the two after just a minute of each. Imagine how powerful this effect might become if we practiced this confidence boosting pose five times a day for two weeks? That’s a part of “faking it till you make it”.


brain chemistry tested

Dana Carney, an assistant professor at Columbia Business School, tried the above experiment and then tested the brain chemistry afterwards. The power posing group had significantly more testosterone showing that even at a chemical level, there were important changes going on.


Even feeling and looking younger!

Harvard psychology professor Ellen Langer designed an involved experiment (1979) with a group of men in their 70s for a week of remembering in a retreat.  Before the experiment, the men’s memory, eyesight, strength and posture were measured.

In the retreat, there were no aids to movement. There were no handrails, no one to help carry their suitcases, nor anyone to help them off the bus. They were surrounded by objects from the 1950s. All conversations about the past had to be in the present tense, as if these things were happening in the “here and now” and not in the “there and then”. No conversation could refer to anything that happened after 1959!

Incredibly, acting as if they were younger created physical changes! All the measures: blood pressure, eyesight, hearing, dexterity, speed of movement and memory improved. Acting young has seemingly made then younger. Faking it had actually created it, it would appear.
William James proposed and idea that, after all this time seems to have relevance. Research seems to show that this idea can be applied to almost every aspect of life to help us life better lives: stay slim, lose weight, increase willpower, be stronger, be more flexible, feel happier, avoid anxiety and negative feelings …. And even slow the effects of ageing!


Testing the “fake it till you make it” principle

Here are 10 quick and effective exercises that use the principle. Why not try one or two of these regularly – I like the five times a day approach!

How could you adapt these to help you do your Pilates practice?

Procrastination: just get the first bit started

Try spending just a few minutes carrying out the first part of the task you’re putting off. You might then feel an urge to complete the task. Let’s see how this works with my accounting!

Resist temptation: Tense up

To avoid that tempting cake, coffee bar or chocolate, make a fist, contract your biceps, press your thumb and first finger together!

Get happiness for free: Smile

Smile and you will feel happier. Make the smile as wide as possible, extend your eyebrow muscles slightly upward, and hold the resulting expression for about 20 seconds. Extend the smile to your eyes – because as we all know that’s where the smile is…

Perseverance: Sit up straight and cross your arms

Try sitting up straight with folded arms for a time. What might the effect be if your computer monitor was above eye height? When you want to give up, stop. Fold your arms in a determined way. How does it make you feel?lo#ooo

Self-confidence: Power pose

Try the idea above. You can ground yourself through your heels, draw your shoulder blades towards each other and down if you’re standing.
Eat less: Use your non-dominant hand.  When you eat with “the other hand” you are acting as if you are doing something unusual. This means that you will have to pay more attention to eating. Perhaps this increased mindfulness will help you eat less.

Perseverance: Sit up straight and cross your arms

Try sitting up straight with folded arms for a time. What might the effect be if your computer monitor was above eye height? When you want to give up, stop. Fold your arms in a determined way. How does it make you feel?

Feeling Guilty: Just wash it away!

Wash your hands or have a shower!

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