being happy!
have the courage to be happy

the opposite emotion: act it out


Yesterday I came across the idea of "acting out the opposite emotion." What does this mean? If you're feeling angry, act calm. If you're feeling sad, act happy. Let me just note that there are lots of situations when using this tactic would NOT be a good idea, and, of course, it's always important to validate our own emotions, but there are many times when this tactic could be very useful. Sometimes our emotions can really get the best of us and even the seemingly good ones, like love, can cause negativity and negative situations in our lives. 

Generally, the best way to do this is to be very mindful of how you are feeling and make sure you are aware of the negative emotions and how they are affecting you. Then, act in an opposite manner. This is not always (or ever) easy, so here are some ideas on how to create opposite emotions (courtesy of Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life by Scott Spradlin): 


To Achieve the Opposite of Anger

  • Observe and describe your angry feelings
  • Change your body language to a friendliness
  • Alter your facial expressions by smiling and looking open 
  • Engage in opposite behaviors, such as:  
    • Telling someone how much you love him/her 
    • Getting a soothing massage
    • Hugging or kissing someone 
    • Partaking mindfully in a calming activity 
    • Thinking about the other persons frame of mind
    • Paying compliments to those who anger you 
    • Stretching your entire body 
    • Considering calm, beautiful, and happy places  


To Achieve the Opposite of Fear

  • Understand what the fear feels like and describe it
  • Stand and walk with confidence and certainty 
  • Adapt a confident facial expression  
  • Engage in opposite behaviors, such as:  
    • Approaching the thing/person/situation you fear 
    • Distracting yourself by thinking of happy things
    • Taking (healthy) risks you would normally not take
    • Trying to relate to the people around you and how they feel 
    • Becoming more involved in the things that don't scare you 


To Achieve the Opposite of Sadness

  • Be aware of the presence of sadness  
  • Sit, stand, and walk as if you are not sad 
  • Smile or wear a happy or neutral expression 
  • Engage in opposite behaviors, such as:  
    • Listening to uplifting music 
    • Watching funny movies or TV shows
    • Doing activities you would rather avoid  
    • Going to work or school  
    • Exercising or being active outside 
    • Eating healthy meals 
    • Singing -- in the car, in the shower, at a karaoke bar... 
    • Dressing up (avoid those sweats!) 
    • Spending time reading about happiness  


To Achieve the Opposite of Love 

Before I go into the details of this one, I'm going to explain it a little bit. I'm a huge fan of love. In fact, "Always Love," by Nada Surf, is one of my all-time favorite songs. I believe in loving yourself, the world, the people around you. I love falling in love. I love things and places and people. But sometimes love, as great as it can be, is bad. When is it bad? When it takes over you and your life. When you are in love with someone who is not your significant other. When you are in love with someone or something that is bad for you. So here are some tips to achieving the opposite of love: 

  • Figure out if love is becoming a problem by asking yourself:
    • What do I want out of this? Does the other person want the same?  
    • Does this relationship match my moral values? 
    • What would I (or do I) gain from this relationship?  
    • Am I putting the needs of the other before my own needs?   
    • Is there any secrecy surround this relationship? If so, why?  
    • Do I love this person, do I love the idea of this person, do I love the idea of love?  
  • Be mindful of the feelings of love and attraction 
  • Notice how you position yourself in relation to this person and create more space 
  • Adapt a neutral facial expression and avoid long periods of eye contact 
  • Engage in opposite behaviors, such as:  
    • Thinking about nonsexual things (such as family members) 
    • Avoiding dressing to appeal to the other person
    • Telling others in your life about the situation  
    • Avoiding being alone or engaging in intimate conversations 
    • Attending events where the other person is not likely to be 
    • Declining any advantages or invitations from the other person 
    • Focusing on activities that are positive and enjoyable to you    


Taking on the task of experiencing opposite emotions can definitely be challenging (especially in the case of love, which, in my opinion, is by far the hardest to overcome). But, like most emotional skills, the more you practice, the more you'll be able to adapting opposite emotions with ease. 

You may have noticed that I've been spending a great deal of time focusing on emotions and how to deal with them. I believe it is very important, when trying to have a positive life that embraces the present moment, to understand, accept, and react to our emotions. As I've stated before, I believe our ability to experience positivity comes from our ability to understand and control our own thoughts. Our thoughts (or, at least, mine) are often dominated by my emotions. If I can better understand the way I feel and deal with these feelings, I can have a happier, more positive experience in this world. Emotions are unavoidable -- but dealing with them isn't. We have the personal power to understand the way we feel and, whether you do this through therapy or reading books on the subject or studying yourself, understanding your emotions can only bring you that much closer to a positive, present life. 


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This is a freaking awesome post! I know that just by smiling I can change my mood sometimes, and the mood of others, too.

I just love the approaches in this post! Thank you for this.

Steph - Thanks for your enthusiasm! It makes me smile. :) I'm glad I could be helpful.

So true, I could really use this a lot, not that I'm an angry person or anything, but sometime this world just pisses on your snowman.

Denise - Yes, it really does help to try this when things aren't going well. It's not always easy to do, but whenever I've tried to do it it's really helped me out.

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