We've often heard that our thoughts can influence our behavior, but can our behavior influence our thoughts? Science certainly points in a "yes" direction. The "Facial Feedback Hypothesis" states that our facial expressions can influence how we feel. In a study called the "Pen study," people were told to hold a pen in their mouths so that their lips didn't touch the pen. Without knowing it, the participants' mouth-shape reflected a smile. Then, while still holding the pen between their teeth, the participants were told to rate a funny cartoon that they were shown. Low and behold, the participants whose expression reflected a smile found the cartoon to be much funnier than the ones who weren't made to hold the pen in this manner. In a similar study called the "Headset study," participants were told to listen to a speech while they either moved their head up and down (unaware that they were actually nodding) or kept their heads still. The ones who "nodded" tended to agree more with the speech that they listened to! Isn't that something? It's a wonder to think about just how much our actions can influence our thought-processes and feelings. Perhaps on those off-days, or even the on-days, try a smile. It may help to brighten your mood!
[*Source: Mae, Lynda. "Lecture 8: The Cognitive Approach." Arizona State University. 24 Jun 2014. Online Presentation.]