Do we run from a bear because we are scared, or is our fear triggered by the running, blood pumping through our body, increased respiration, etc? Interesting question, right? Um… I have never seen a bear, so I can’t predict what I would do. Or if I would remember all the brochures cautioning NOT to run! But I digress…
Posture has interested scientists for a long time. In the late 19th century, William James, an American philosopher-psychologist caused quite an uproar when he posed the above-mentioned bear-question. On a less scientific level: Our parents and grandparents told us to sit up, stand straight, take our hands out of our pockets, stop slouching, etc until we wanted to scream. As soon as you grow up, you turn into your parents and even adopt that tone when you tell your children the same things. Why?
( 1) There is a quite popular experiment to illustrate how our posture/body language not only creates an impression that other people will judge us by, but even more importantly that our posture directly affects our mood. This ‘pencil experiment‘ is when you hold a pencil between your lips in a way that it uses the same muscles active in a genuine smile. Empirical data show that this will elicit happiness. Try it and see if it works when you’re having a rough day. On a really rough day, I usually watch Friends bloopers on YouTube. But I digress again…
(2) In the 2000’s, the Ohio State University did research to prove that when you nod or shake your head, that physical motion will influence your opinion. Researchers have also proven that we can reduce physical pain by hugging ourselves. Interesting right?
(3) More university tests proved that if you drag your feet while walking, and especially if you slump, it will drain your energy. If you were tired to begin with, this sad shuffle will suck your remaining energy even faster. Pulling your shoulders back, straightening your spine and walking ‘lighter on your feet’ increases not only your energy, but also lightens your mood.
(4) It is also proven that you experience more confidence when sitting up straight. Conversely, bad posture can reinforce feelings of stress and helplessness. I’m all for sitting up straight! (And I honestly am sitting up straight at the moment. Now that I think about… I sit up straight most of the times. But when I’m really in my writing mode, I find leaning back (more and more as the words flow) to increase my creativity.
Do you make your mother and grandmother proud with your posture? Which one of these points above have you seen affect your mood? Have you tried the pencil test?