“FAKE IT ‘TILL YOU MAKE IT”
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
In a recent conversation I had with some young, up-and-coming dojo leaders, I shared the advice Grand Master LaMattina gave me when first decided to open this dojo, advice that it took me a while to appreciate.
The truth is, I was taken aback all those years ago when GM said to me that sometimes you have to “fake it until you make it.” As someone who considered himself all about genuineness and authenticity, whether it came to the martial arts or relating to people, I was turned off by the suggestion that I “fake” anything. But, as I explained to our young leaders-in-training, the intervening decade has contained a certain number of bad days, days when I felt beaten up and worn down and not in the best mood for dealing with anyone, let alone getting in front of a karate or kickboxing class to try to motivate, inspire and encourage. Staying home not being an option in times like that, I did – and still do, sometimes – the only thing I could.
I faked it. And I came to learn something pretty powerful.
The quote above, about our smile sometimes being the source of our joy, comes from a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, but the thought itself isn’t exclusive to the spiritual realm. In fact, the exact same idea was put forward a century earlier by English naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin. The “Facial Feedback Hypothesis”, as Darwin called it, posited that we could regulate our mood by using muscles we associated with a certain mood. In other words, an unhappy person who brought themselves to smile could start to feel a genuine sense of joy.
What I learned when circumstances forced me to “fake” a positive attitude for the sake of my students is that it did not stay fake for long. Rather, when you transmit enthusiasm towards others, they send it right back at you. Next thing you know, you are all being carried on a current of genuine, positive, unstoppable energy.
In other words, you “make” it.