Having a Bad Day? Wear Rose Colored Glasses
While visiting a friend in downtown Los Angeles, I realized doing so in our present heat wave can present immediate challenges towards feeling happy. First, it’s hot and congested. Second, the smog and traffic are a real problem and can make any happy person not feel so cheerful. The day I chose to stroll through downtown was sweltering, and the smog hovered over the Hollywood hills like a micro-managing boss. Though, to me, what I saw looked and felt altogether different.
I wore gold and rose tinted sunglasses that day. The smog looked like a soft orange and pink haze much like what you would see during a perfect sunset. The congestion of cars and people had a pale golden and pink tint suddenly giving it a happier vibe than before. I realized the only difference between reality and what everyone else was seeing and what I was feeling were my rose tinted sunglasses.
I did feel happier wearing my sunglasses, but why? To understand that we’d have to turn to a surprising fact that might seem unrelated, but reveals how tricking our senses can produce a better mood.
Smiling can make you happier, instantly. According to an experiment in the late 80’s, 169 participants were instructed to give a neutral expression, a standard smile, or a Duchenne smile (genuine smile the includes the eyes). Then, they were asked to participate in stressful activities. The results were varying degrees of relaxation and overall happiness. At the end of the research, the most stressed participants were the one’s that gave a neutral expression. The moderately stressed and happy were the members who gave a standard smile. Though the most relaxed and most content were the participants, who gave a Duchenne smile while doing the stressful activities.
Smiling, even if we’re unhappy, can help us feel more relaxed and cheerful because of the surge of happy chemicals in the brain: Serotonin, Dopamine, Endorphin. These naturally occurring chemicals leave behind a more joyous mood. As for rose colored glasses, it can have a similar effect because it’s tricking our body into feeling and sensing something positive even if it’s not.
Now, no one should feel good about Los Angeles smog. But if you’re having a bad day, any added unpleasantness can drive you deeper into a negative space. To stop a bad mood from taking over, you can try to encourage happy feelings like wearing rose tinted glasses. Though not everyone is going to want to rock those sunglasses, we get it.
You can, instead, take a walk. Even if it’s for five minutes, a brisk walk can make you feel instantly happier, research has shown. Or call a happy friend who you consider to be close. By connecting with a happy person, you could increase your happiness by 25%.
Not every day is going to be stellar and not every bad day warrants a mood that will bring us down. Applying a single instant mood boost like my rose tinted glasses or whatever you choose can be the difference between slipping into sadness or finding a bright spot in your day. A simple fix such as these are not necessarily ways to permanently fix grief. They’re used as instant ‘pick-me-ups’ to get you rolling in a more positive direction. Then you can be happier presently and moves towards a happier future tomorrow.