Sometimes you are just having a bad day!
And it makes sense why you would be in a bad mood.
But other times your mood is just off and you can’t seem to figure out what’s going on. (Just a quick point. Mood is incredibly complex; there is day-to-day mood, and then there are conditions like depression and bipolar disorder where our mood doesn’t match what’s happening in our lives and our world. For this post, we won’t be talking about mood disorders but instead, our day-to-day mood).
OK, here we go….
We often think that our mood is coming from what’s happening in our brain and that’s impacting how we feel. For example, some chemicals in our brain, like serotonin or dopamine, are off and that’s impacting our mood. That is true in some cases BUT let’s check out these 3 recent studies for some really interesting insight into another way to think about your mood:
– The way you walk, stand and your posture impacts your mood. Standing up straight and walking confidently boosts people’s moods.1
– Listening to a recording of your own voice that has been manipulated by a computer to make you sound like you are in a good mood boosts people’s moods. 2
– When people are told to smile (even if they have nothing to smile about), their mood improves.3
There’s a pattern here that might sound overly simple, but it speaks to a very fascinating way our brain works that we can easily lose sight of. What is happening in our physical body is sending signals to our brain telling us how we should feel. What this means is we can actually trick our brain into boosting our mood by taking control of the way we walk, the way we talk and forcing ourselves to smile.
It might sound like pop psychology, but this is real brain science. Our brains interpret what our body is doing that plays a part in how our brain sets our mood accordingly.
The next time you feel like you want to boost your mood, try tricking your brain by strutting, singing and smiling, and watch your brain reset your mood! OK, maybe the strutting and singing might put the people around you in a bad mood, so maybe just stick with sounding positive and walking confidently.
Stay tuned for upcoming “Doses of Science” that cover the latest science to improve daily life!
1. Johannes Michalak, Katharina Rohde, Nikolaus F. Troje. How we walk affects what we remember: Gait modifications through biofeedback change negative affective memory bias. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 2015; 46: 121
2. Jean-Julien Aucouturier, Petter Johansson, Lars Hall, Rodrigo Segnini, Lolita Mercadié, Katsumi Watanabe. Covert digital manipulation of vocal emotion alter speakers’ emotional states in a congruent direction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016; 201506552
3. Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman. Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Positive Facial Expression on the Stress Response. Psychological Science, 2012