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A Word about “Behaving”

A Word about “Behaving”

We have always known that there is value in making ourselves behave in ways that we don’t particularly want to do or feel like doing.

One popular term is “Fake it ’til you make it.”

Another is “Behaving ‘as if.'”

The concept is this: We can make ourselves behave in ways that we do not feel like behaving. When we do that consistently, we can actually change the way we feel. In other words, behavior often precedes feelings.

Two very common examples are getting out of bed in the morning, and exercising. We frequently do not feel like doing either, but when we do those things, we almost always feel better.

We have also known that having a negative disposition and being in negative roles can adversely affect not only our behavior but our thinking (and feeling) as well.

Philip G. Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Stanford University, conducted his famous “Prison Experiment” in 1971.

Tweny-four male students were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

The participants adapted to their roles well beyond Zimbardo’s expectations, as the “guards” enforced authoritarian measures and ultimately subjected some of the “prisoners” to psychological torture.

Many of the “prisoners” passively accepted the psychological abuse and, at the request of the “guards,” readily harassed other prisoners who attempted to prevent it.

The behaviors became so extreme, the entire experiment was abruptly stopped after only six days. This amazing experiment is documented at:


Social scientists and therapists always known that there is validity to the concept, “Behaving as if.”

Only recently, however, have we had the technology to understand that our brains are in a constant state of change and development.

The implications of these findings are literally “brain-boggling.” Still, we are only scratching the surface!

Dr. Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist and an associate professor and researcher at Harvard Business School.

She presents a fascinating “Ted Talk” on this subject entitled, “Your Body Language Shapes Who you Are.” I’m sure you will find it as fascinating as I did. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!




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