“You can tell a lot by someone’s body language.”
The way humans’ express victory or celebration is universal: we throw our arms up to the sky; we leap into the air; pump our fist or do a happy dance. Body language can tell us a lot about other states of mind, too. If someone is curled into themselves, head in hands, slumped—it doesn’t take an intuitive to see the person is sad, depressed, feeling powerless.
According to Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy, this physical expression of a mental state can also work in the other direction. Cuddy’s research has established that simply adopting a posture can induce a predictable emotional state; our bodies can change our thoughts and feelings. Standing tall, with your arms raised in victory, causes a spike in important hormones that make you feel more powerful and comfortable. Adopting a powerful posture for even 2 minutes can begin to re-wire your brain; fake it ‘til you make it turns out to have scientific justification.
As Ms. Cuddy points out, this is a great way to prepare for a stressful situation—like a job interview, or a speech— where you want to feel confident and in charge. This posture, referred to as the “Wonder Woman” pose (and other powerful body positions she identifies) can also be wonderfully effective for triggering the optimism and confidence that allows you to confidently express your authentic self.
I’ve included this video here because it’s one of the revolutionary tools that neuroscience is revealing that I incorporate into my regular coaching practices. Scientists like Cuddy and Rick Hanson have proven that we can literally retrain our brains for increased effectiveness, happiness and calm. These can be a great addition to your toolkit, as you learn to get unstuck and take a more active, authentic role in the direction of your life.