Back in 1987, when I was in my mid-30's and had the energy to climb the corporate ladder, someone told me that attending a Dale Carnegie course would do my resume some good. The course was entitled "The Dale Carnegie Course in Effective Speaking and Human Relations" and was based upon Mr. Carnegie's "Golden Rules." I concurred, and signed up.
The class was excellent. Over the course of eight weeks, we explored Dale's Golden Rules and their application in public speaking. One rule that stuck with me is "if you want to feel enthusiastic, act enthusiastic." At first glance, it's a bit counterintuitive. That is, how do I act in a certain way, when I don't feel like acting that way? It's like saying you can "fake it" and the fuzzy warm feelings will come. Definitely bassackwards, right?
Our Dale Carnegie class explored this rule in some detail, including students' personal experiences when putting this into action. Nearly everyone who performed this "trick" ended up feeling better. It didn't matter if you knew you were fooling yourself. It appears that our brain doesn't care how we feel — the mere act of changing your physical behavior has mood-altering effects.
While running recently (using the Nike Run Club iOS app), Coach Bennet suggested that I smile while at a "flat out" pace for 30 seconds (called a "Celebratory Run"). At that moment I thought about Dale Carnegie, and with my legs and lungs burning with exhaustion, I reluctantly plastered a big grin on my face (while wearing my COVID mask, which thankfully kept me from looking like a complete idiot). Within seconds, I felt great. There was a mysterious boost in my mood and my energy reservoir refilled. I was having fun.
So, I say to Mr. Carnegie, thank you. I'll bet you didn't think you'd make me a better runner. But then again...