Posture and mood are connected. People experiencing sadness are unlikely to be seen with arms reaching for the sky, leaping upward, with a smile beaming across their face. The very idea of someone in a sad state leaping high, eyes sparkling etc. is silly, is it not? This is Because there are rules for sadness and these rules must be obeyed! In this very short piece we explore body-mind-mood relationship…
I say “doing” because “sadness” is a name for an activity. We cannot put sadness in the back of a truck. We cannot take that truck to the top of a mountainous ravine, release the brake and watch it roll down at ever increasing speed to smash into the rocks and burst into flames… no more sadness. No ! Sadness is the label for something we do. And, when we do it well it shows in our posture, the way we carry ourselves.
To “do” sadness ‘properly’ we must adopt a very particular posture. You can easily guess all the components of a sad/miserable mood reflected in posture. Downward gaze, slumped shoulders, low energy. Definitely not much leaping here!
The happy posture is completely different. When people have succeeded in competition or simply connected to their personal power and resourcefulness, they feel confident, happy, reasonably assertive. This is reflected in their posture. Posture and mood go together like peaches and cream. But, does mood determine posture or can posture determine mood? If I am “doing” sadness and change my posture, will this have an impact on my mood? Will I suddenly become more happy?
Power Posture, Power Mood
Amy Cuddy, American social psychologist, has produced some research in this area. In one of her TED Talks, she argues that levels of the stress hormone cortisol diminish and confidence hormone testosterone increase within the space of just 2 minutes of adopting a “power pose” posture (think ‘wonder woman’).
As an extension of this simple sad/happy posture and mood relationships there is the role the body plays in communicating with the brain. Seeing a dangerous animal, our heart rate elevates. Because our heart rate goes up we feel fear. Not the other way round! It is the feedback from the body to the brain that determines feelings. When seeing clients for clinical hypnosis, it is usual encourage the client to orient themselves to a relaxing experience by taking some nice deep breaths. Why is this? our bodies, when relaxed breathe deeply and slowly. Dr Tal Shafir, in a TED talk shares similar information to Cuddy’s and elaborates further on the body-mind relationship, in particular, the consequences of posture for mood.
I hope you will find something of interest here as understanding the body-mind connection can prove helpful for changing the way we do both happiness and sadness and much more besides.
Thanks for stopping by,