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Monday, February 27, 2012

Commandment #5 - Act as If

When I first found The Happiness Project, I started that night to create my own twelve commandments.  Little by little, I'm explaining each.  Here we are at number five.

Gretchen Rubin, the writer of The Happiness Project, says that one of the things you can do to help create your own commandments is to think of phrases that have stuck with you.  This commandment is courtesy of my dad.  I would actually call this my dad's catch phrase.  I mean, if someone were to come up to me and ask me what my dad's parenting phrase was, I'd say this...

"Act as if."

...which I guess is very similar to "fake it til you make it."

There have been a few times in my life when I've found myself in really uncomfortable situations, and I remembered and used my dad's words, and it changed the situation completely.

The first was my first semester at BYU.  I was the only Freshman I knew there.  I had an upper classman friend or two, but they lived off campus.  Having lived in the same house since I was three and attending school with the same people my entire growing up, I was in a completely new world.  I had to learn how to make friends starting from scratch.

One night as I walked out on the quad and passed the statue of Brigham Young, it hit me--not that Brigham Young has anything to do with this story, but just that the idea was so stark that I remember exactly where I was when it happened.  I decided that I had to "act as if" and put a smile on my face and pretend that I was happy.

It worked.

There's much more to that story, and I met one of my dearest friends that night, and we're still in touch after all these years, but that's an entire post in and of itself, so that'll wait for another time.

The other time was when we (four sisters and five elders) received our first assignments in the mission field.  Those first days in the mission home, I decided to have a good attitude no matter what.

When we got our assignments at breakfast the last morning in the mission home, I learned that I was heading to Aomori and would spend the entire day on the train and have two transfers.  I would have all of my luggage with me and would have to make it alone.  The other missionaries (most of them) were going fairly close by--an hour or two away at the most.  I was traveling farthest.

To be honest, I was petrified--what if I got lost?  What if I couldn't read a sign or failed to get off the train at the right place?  How would I communicate and get myself back on track?  No one knew that I was having these thoughts.  I had already decided that I wasn't going to let the worry get the best of me.  I said only positive things, and my demeanor followed suit.  It ended up being a fun adventure.

So, here's the bottom line...If you don't want to do something, act as if you do.  If you don't particularly care for someone, act as if you do.  The amazing thing is, from what I've experienced with this rule, if you can make yourself believe it, it comes to pass.


LeAnn said...

I truly loved this one. I think it is great advice. I know that if I just put forth my best self even when I don't want too that I will feel better in the long run. Thanks for your experiences and blessing to you!

Alyson said...

Great points, great reminder. I think acting as if is probably one of the keys to contentment and success, because most of us are scared to death to jump in to something new.

Tonya said...

I remember you teaching this to the YW a few years back. It struck me and has stuck with me. I actually think of it often and can say for sure that it works.

lia london, author and writing coach said...

It is remarkable to me that, when I do something "as if" I were happy with it/good at it, it truly gets easier to do that thing. I've seen huge changes in myself using this simple principle. Thanks so much for this post!

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