The alignment between body and mind is so strong that our body language directly affects our mood and mindset.
And vice versa.
We all know this instinctively, but it’s so obvious we often overlook it — and more importantly, we overlook why this matters.
Imagine yourself feeling happy, energetic, and on top of the world. What do you picture?
You probably have a little more bounce in your step. You’re smiling, your chin is high, and your body feels relaxed.
When you see an old friend, your arms immediately open wide and you flash a big smile.
You can picture it because this is how we all look and act when we feel great.
Now imagine you’re feeling down in the dumps.
You’re moving more sluggishly. You’re more closed off and spend more time looking down.
Your slouching posture forces you to take shallow breaths, followed by the occasional deep breath and sigh to give your brain the oxygen it desperately needs.
There’s a clear correlation between our body language and our mood.
However, we have the false impression that our mental thoughts influence our body language in a sequence of thoughts first, body language second.
What most people don’t realize is that the connection between body language and mood is two-way — meaning you can set your body language first, which in turn influences your mood second.
Back in 2012, Amy Cuddy published a Harvard research paper that proves this theory: The Benefit of Power Posing Before a High-Stakes Social Evaluation. Since then, Cuddy has received tons of criticism, which she addresses here, and a lot of copycats as well.
In this article, I’m going to briefly summarize her research and explain why these concepts are crucial for those wanting to improve their life and reach peak performance.
If you find all of this interesting, you’d probably enjoy her book — Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.
Your Body Language Influences How Other Perceive You
Through years of being a human and communicating with other humans, you can get a feel for another person’s mood based on their body language.
Generally speaking, people who are happy and confident show “high power” body language. People who are sad or insecure show “low power” body language.
Take a look at the image below.
This is important because we are always making snap judgments about other people based on their body language, as they are of us.
However, there are many cases where you might be giving the wrong message about yourself.
For example, if you are cold you could very likely display low power body language, which could leave a bad impression.
This is important because your body language can mean the difference between:
- Getting hired or not
- Making a good or bad first impression
- Getting a girl’s number or creeping her out
As important as it is to understand how your body language sends certain messages about you — it’s even more fascinating to understand how you can use your body language to control how you feel.
Your Body Language Affects Testosterone and Cortisol Levels
Powerful people are more assertive, optimistic, and confident. In addition to their thoughts and beliefs, powerful people tend to have higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol.
It’s no coincidence that powerful people display powerful body language.
The research shows that only two minutes of doing “power poses” can raise testosterone and lower cortisol.
This combination of higher testosterone and lower cortisol is the perfect mix for a strong leader.
Testosterone makes us more dominant, which is generally a good thing. However, being dominant and stressed out is a recipe for disaster. Lower cortisol makes us more relaxed and easygoing, but we don’t want to be complacent.
Higher testosterone with lower cortisol allows us to attack the day with enthusiasm and solve problems with a level head.
Of course, low power poses have the opposite effect — decreasing testosterone and raising cortisol. In other words, turning you into a timid person who’s stressed out.
Can you see how that would make a difference in your daily life?
How to Use Power Poses
I do power poses as part of my warmup routine in the gym by stretching by hands high to the ceiling and wide to my sides. This is also just a great stretch in general.
To benefit from power posing, all you have to do is sit or stand in a power pose for two minutes.
Personally, I think the more space you occupy with your power poses, the stronger the effect is. But I’m not a scientist, so take that with a grain of salt.
I highly encourage you to watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on Power Poses. It’s the second most watched Ted Talk of all time, and she explains everything for you.
If you’re interested, here is a link to her book Presence.
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What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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