There are times – this might be one of them – when you’re feeling overwhelmed, underappreciated, low on confidence, high on fear or just plain out of the old energy and optimism you’re usually known for.

What to do? Act. Seriously, act. Act like a person who’s on top of their game; sure of a win, eager to meet whomever or whatever’s around the next bend in the road.

As an acting major in drama school, I can tell you there were plenty of times when I – and my classmates – didn’t “feel” like the part we happen to be playing (especially in my case since I almost always played comedy…) But the show must go on and we “played” it anyway. And not only did we play it, we played it to the hilt. And because we had to put in the extra effort to “get there,” we usually knocked it out of the park.

And the uh, funny thing is, once we “played that part,” we became it. In my case, of course, that meant well… funny. (It’s hard to be miserable and funny at the same time…)

The great thing about “acting the way you want to feel” is that it works in just about any situation you find yourself in. Here’s how you can make it work for you…

Assume the posture you would have if you felt the way you want to feel. Breathe the way you would breathe, talk the way you would talk, think the things you’d think about – do the things you would do…if you felt the way you want to feel.

In other words, act as though you actually are happy.

Remember Pavlov and his dogs? He rang a bell every time he fed the dogs. So the dogs associated the sound of the bell with the taste of food. When the bell rang, the dogs salivated…even when there was no food. In this case, you’re both Pavlov…and the dog. Get it?

As Adam Khan writes in his book, Principles for Personal Growth, the really good thing is, “from the time we were little we’ve been relating certain body postures, facial expressions, breathing patterns, etc., to feelings like happiness, calm or strength. The postures, facial expressions and feelings all belong together. So when we act like we feel good…we begin to actually feel good. And after awhile, we aren’t acting…”

Oh, and an added benefit is that the world will respond positively to the way we’re “acting” – never having known how we “used to feel.” They’ll feel our upbeat attitude and be friendlier which will make us actually feel better about ourselves and voilà! We’re out of the vortex and into an upward spiral.

Does it take a little effort, a little self-manipulation, maybe a little kick in the pants? Sure. But it’s worth it. So next time you feel crummy, build a character for yourself – one that’s upbeat, unstoppable, ready for the next great ride – and play it. Actually, play it every chance you get – in a meeting, at a cocktail party, in the deli, on the elevator. I promise that everybody will buy your act… including you.

Actually, I’m feeling happy just thinking about it…

And speaking of “playing it,” here’s a great old song sung by Tony Bennett that should do the trick…

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