Fake it till you make it – that’s the core principle behind a new initiative that claims acting happier will actually make you happier.

The Montreal man behind a new documentary, “You Are What You Act,” claims that it if you act a certain way long enough, you can become the thing you’re imitating.

The idea came to filmmaker Albert Nerenberg after he attended a workshop on laughter and trauma, and heard how actors like Tom Cruise, had assisted or rescued people in real life.

His research led him to scientific reports that suggest that the positions people hold change their biochemistry.

“We’ve been told that it’s what you think that counts, but I actually think it’s how you behave, how you act, that has a much stronger influence on how you feel and that has not been explored much on the science side,” Nerenberg told CTV News Channel.

“Maybe Tom Cruise is acting out his roles in real life and I wondered if that could be true for us; that if we acted roles about what we wanted in life, if we could get those things, more bravery, more happiness, more confidence.”

The documentary includes interviews with psychologists and demonstrates that certain psychological exercises are also things learned in elementary theatre class.

Nerenberg also mentioned a study that smiling for no reason can improve mental health.

“We’re distorting reality a little bit by smiling,” he said.

“That’s what really got me thinking that there could be other applications. Smiling and laughing are things we can do without getting into too much trouble. There’s a lot available to us that can make our lives better that we don’t often take advantage of.”

Nerenberg emphasized that he is not advocating that people become “a big faker.”

“You walk into a room and you can choose to smile or maybe I’ll be friendly or be warm and those choices, science shows, leads generally to better outcomes,” he said.

“So if you have a choice smile or laugh, you’re likely to get results.”