Change Your Thoughts by Changing What You Do

March 12, 2020
In this article, discover if changing what you do can lead you to change your thoughts! Read on to learn more about this topic!

Do your thoughts define your behavior? Or do your daily activities define your thoughts? Actually, both statements are true, as they’re both connected and their influence is bidirectional. You can change your thoughts by changing what you do and vice versa. Not convinced yet? Keep reading!

Are you happy because you smile or do you smile because you’re happy? See for yourself. Grab a pen, put it between your teeth, and hold it for 30 seconds. When you do this, your brain is releasing the same amount of dopamine as if you were laughing after someone told you a joke. This is a simple example of how you can deceive your brain into thinking that you’re in a certain emotional state. So consequently, your thoughts will automatically change.

Fritz Strack and Sabine Stepper from the University of Mannheim, along with Leonard Martin from the University of Illinois, conducted an experiment in which some participants had to hold a pen between their lips and others between their teeth without it touching their lips. Those who held the pen with their lips had “blocked” the most common expressions of joy, such as laughter. In fact, when it came to rating the comedy quality of some cartoons, the lip-pen group scored lower than the teeth-pen group, which had experienced a forced smile.

These results showed that it’s more likely to improve one’s mood by forcing a smile and, consequently, be more willing to see situations in a more positive way.

A happy woman outside.

What happens if you change what you do?

What if you could voluntarily increase your heart rate in front of a random person? Would you maybe find them more attractive due to the level of activity in your body? In 1974, psychologists Arthur Aron and Donald Dutt conducted this exact experiment.

Two groups of young men had to cross a bridge. The first group’s bridge was safe and stable; the second group’s, however, wasn’t as safe and looked unstable. The participants of this last group were more “activated” due to fear and potential danger, while the first group crossed the bridge with no such “activation”.

At the end of the bridge, an attractive woman surveyed each participant and gave them her number in case they had any doubts or questions. Sure enough, the participants from the second group interpreted their “activation” (in the form of a higher heart rate) as an attraction, meaning that more of them called the woman than the participants from the first group. 

Deceive your brain by changing what you do

What can you do to change your emotions? You, better than anyone else, know what’s good for you and how you can adapt your behavior to “deceive” your brain. But in case you’re not sure what to do, you can try all the following exercises and see what works:

  • Exercise. When you work out, your body releases dopamine and serotonin. Exercise lowers your stress levels, relieves depression symptoms, and improves your mood. Thus, you’ll definitely feel better after going for a walk or a run.
  • What makes you laugh? Podcasts, funny videos, comics, jokes, memes… There’s something for everyone out there. Just pick what makes you laugh in order to change how you feel and improve your mood.
  • Breathe and relax. Physically relaxing can also help you relax your mind. Exercises such as mindful breathing or meditation can rid your body and your mind of stress.
  • Socialize. When you meet new people or hang out with friends, you disconnect. It’s as if you were forcing your mind to rearrange itself since you must verbalize what you’re thinking and listen to others. This makes you stop ruminating about your day.
A smiling woman changing her thoughts.

In short, there’s no doubt that you can change your thoughts by simply changing what you do every day. So go ahead and discover what makes you laugh and feel at peace! We’re sure you’ll see results right away.