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Posture Affects Mental Resilience. Smiling Does Too.

According to Professor Amy Cuddy of Harvard, “bodies can change our mind.” In her studies over years, she concluded that “positive body language can significantly improve your thoughts, feelings, attitude, and actions through a number of mechanisms, all of which contribute to a more resilient you.” But wait, there’s more: “positive body language can help you become more optimistic, perseverant, and resilient.”

Changing how you stand and sit can create a measurable increase in testosterone by up to 20%. This is the hormone that makes you feel more confident and motivated. Further, your posture can decrease cortisol, the anxiety hormone that eats away at our brain’s functions and ability to think clearly. The punchline? Positive body language helps your emotional intelligence, that is you’re more aware of, control, and express your emotions, while identifying and managing others’ emotions. HOW? Being aware of our body language helps us be more present and engaged with situations as well as allowing others to engage more actively with us.

Positive posture, she found, makes us “more likeable and trustworthy” according to a study at Tufts University. You’re seen as more competent. Sound inviting?

What do you need to do?

  • SMILE: Even if you aren’t feeling especially happy, smiling on purpose can make you actually feel happy. When you smile, “you release dopamine and serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitters.  

    Professors at the University of Kansas made a large group smile on purpose. Then they asked them to perform stressful tasks. The “smilers’ were able to perform tasks better, felt more calm, cool and collected than their neutral counterparts, while their heart rates didn’t change.

  • STOP FIDGETING: You know, tapping your fingers or toes, twirling your hair, looking around anxiously. These habits increase your anxiety and fear and decrease your confidence in taking on a new task.

  • SHOULDERS BACK. CHEST OUT: Just basic good posture. We’ve all seen people who are hunched over. What does that convey? Weakness? Illness? Lack of self-confidence?

  • STRIKE A POWER POSE to get in the mood. Two minutes is all. STAND UP. Move your right foot a bit to the right, the left, a bit to the left. Put your hands on your hips, puff up your chest, and take up space. Perhaps before you’re going to give a presentation, confront your friend, parent, or boss. Warm up first by getting your body to send a powerful message to your brain.

  • FOCUS ON YOUR BrainStyle™ STRENGTHS: Remind yourself of your natural gifts, those things you do naturally, without training. Look at the list in your chapter in the BrainStyles book. Moreover, you can really reinforce this positive view of yourself by journaling about your gifts, and a time that you put them to work to create a success.

So, standing up straight, smiling, and reinforcing the things you do well can have tremendous payoffs. Now, deep breath. Shoulders back and show those pearly whites.

Marlane Miller, 

Author, Founder, President

BrainStyles, Inc.