Understand body language for happiness & resilience

Understand body language for happiness & resilience

by Ingrid Poulson

I've always found it a point of fascination in how much our stance can impact on our mood. 

In my training, I often ask participants to show me through their body language how they would look if they received bad news.  Most people will hunch over, drop their eyes and bring their arms in closer to their body.  Try it and see what you do.

The 'grief' stance makes sense- it's the body trying to protect our vulnerable heart. 

Now, show me how you spend most of your day at work. 

Most office workers will show me the same stance, eyes down, head down, arms close to the body- hunched over the computer. 

This isn't only a problem with 'hunching'.   The real issue is that our mind reads our body stance and interprets how we should be feeling.  If we are hunched, our mind interprets this as meaning "We are in danger. We need to protect ourselves. Look out!"   Is it any wonder that we often feel so anxious by the end of the day?

In RISE (my book from 2008), I suggest adopting a different stance, especially when you are feeling low, bullied, harried or sad.  Using the acronym GLOW, it suggests you stand like this:

Gaze:  lift up your eyes.

Lengthen: stretch out your limbs

Other: imagine another you attached to each side of your body (this is an old drama trick that gives you 'presence')

Winner:  what would a winner's face look like?  Put that face on.

One stand out moment of pride for me was when my psychologist mother said that she had passed this acronym onto a young school girl who had been suffering at the hands of bullies.  The girl not only adopted the stance, but adapted it; deciding to wear the "face of a warrior". Just brilliant.

I've now come across this wonderful work by Amy Cuddy who shows us the difference your stance can make to your brain, mood and behaviour.  Watch this TED talk to learn how to use the three Power Poses and instantly give yourself a boost in confidence, whilst simultaneously reducing your stress…

…read the original on Ingrid's own blog HERE

And check out Amy Cuddy's fascinating TED talk HERE