A Simple Way to Change How You Feel

Chapter 29 of the book Self-Help Stuff That Works

by Adam Khan:

SOMETIMES WHEN YOU WANT TO behave differently, you don't feel like it when the time comes. And sometimes when you want to feel differently, you don't really know how to get there from where you are. Maybe you want to feel confident talking with strangers or feel cheerful at work, but you don't know how to feel confident or cheerful. Well, there is a way.

The principle is simple: Assume the posture you would have if you felt the way you want to feel, breathe the way you would breathe, talk the way you would talk, think the things you would think, act the way you would act - do the things you would do if you felt the way you want to feel.

Are you depressed and want to feel happy? Move your body like you move it when you're happy. If you can't remember what it's like to be happy, move your body the same way you've seen others move when they looked happy. Put the same expression on your face. Imagine or remember the way you talk to yourself and the kind of perspective you might have about your situation when you're happy, and then say those things to yourself and take that perspective.

In other words, act as though you were happy.

If you are angry and want to be calm, act as though you were calm. Do you feel weak and want to be strong? Act as though you were strong.

What you're doing is changing everything that can be changed, and this changes your feelings, which can't be changed directly.

Remember Pavlov's dogs? Pavlov rang a bell every time he fed the dogs, and the dogs associated the sound of the bell with the taste of food. So when the bell rang, the dogs salivated, even when there was no food.

For your whole life you've been relating certain body postures, facial expressions, breathing patterns, etc., to certain feelings like happiness or calmness or strength. The postures and facial expressions and feelings belong together. So when you act as though you're relaxed, you begin to feel relaxed. When you act as though you feel good, you begin to feel good. And after awhile, you aren't acting. It's like siphoning gas - you suck on the hose at first, and then it comes out by itself.


"Acting as though" also changes reality, which tends to reinforce the feelings. For example, people who feel depressed typically aren't very friendly. If they acted like a person who felt good, they would act friendlier, which would cause people to act friendly in return, which would make the person feel less depressed. It creates an upward spiral. Change how you act and what you do and your feelings will change. You will get a better response from the world, which will reinforce your good feelings.

Act as though you already feel the way you want to feel.

Here's another, completely different and less difficult way to change the way you feel right away:
Brighter Future? Sounds Good!

Is there someone in your family, maybe an in-law or relative, that consistently makes you feel upset or angry or depressed? There's something you can do about it. Check out:
Attitudes and Kin

Here's a completely unconventional anger management technique, and really whole new way of life that prevents much of the anger and conflict from ever starting:
Unnatural Acts

Here's a way to deal with conflict without getting angry, and coming to good solutions:
The Conflict of Honesty

Would you like a little encouragement and practical techniques for living your life with honor? Would you like to know some secrets of personal integrity? Check this out:
Forging Mettle

How about a little inspiration on your path to greater wisdom, goodness, and honor? Here it is:
Honest Abe

We've Been Duped

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 28). A Simple Way to Change How You Feel, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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