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Harvard Psychologists Suggest Simple Body-Language Tweaks That Instantly Boost Confidence

Harvard Psychologists Suggest Simple Body-Language Tweaks That Instantly Boost Confidence

What can  – in an instant – elevate your sense of power? The answer isn’t winning the lottery or getting that big promotion. It’s a “power pose” and research suggests it can effectively enhance your confidence.

A power pose is an open, expansive posture used to convey power in animals and humans alike. It’s the iconic pose of Wonder Woman and every Marvel comic book superhero out there. It’s also the pose of an Olympic gold medal winner, arms extended to the sky in a sweeping gesture of celebration.

Power poses represent confidence, security, and dominance. It’s the stance of success. Leaders have it, and the rest of us want it.

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The idea of a power pose was introduced by a group of researchers at Harvard in their 2010 study. They compared what they called “high-power” poses (aka power poses) to “low-power” poses, which are closed-off, contractive positions. Think cowering animals, the kid sitting humbly in the back of the classroom, or that downtrodden employee hunched over his desk.

In the study, the high- and low-power pose groups were told to hold two postures (high- or low-power poses, respectively) for 1-minute each before they completed a gambling task, provided a saliva sample, and answered some questions. Data showed that the power pose mattered. The high-power pose group experienced enhanced feelings of power and increased tolerance for risk, and those in the low-power pose group showed the opposite.

A simple tweak in body positioning, held for only a few minutes, influenced how people perceived themselves and the risks they were willing to take.

The effect of the power pose went beyond subjective feelings, however, all the way down to the biological level. Those in the high-power pose group experienced an elevation in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol. Why is this noteworthy? Because high testosterone and low cortisol are the markers of a powerful and effective leader – dominant and yet calm in the face of stress. Those in the low-power pose group showed the opposite pattern. Not only did they feel less powerful, but their hormone levels indicated lower dominance and higher activity to stress.

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How did a mere change in body position create such a difference? In her 2012 TED talk, one of the authors of the original study, Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy, argued that tweaks in body positioning can send a message to the brain that a person is more capable or powerful than they might assume. In essence, it’s faking it until you make it.

Cuddy also described a subsequent study whereby two groups of people – a high-power pose and low-power pose group – were subjected to a stressful job interview. Again the subjects assumed high-power poses or low-power poses for only a few minutes before the interview. Evaluators who were unaware of which interviewees had performed a high-power versus low-power pose concluded – across the board – that they would hire those in the high power pose group.

In this case, the power pose would have paid off – with a new job.

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Although a subsequent 2015 study didn’t replicate the biological findings, they still reported increased subjective feelings of power in those adopting power poses. And other research on “expansive postures” shows that it can influence different facets of behavior as well as how others respond to us.

Body language reflects not only how you feel about yourself, but also influences how others react to you.

Consider this – how do you respond when you see someone hunched over, arms hugging their midsection, head down? What about when you see a person stand tall, feet apart, chin up. We make immediate judgments of others based on body language and adjust our behavior towards them accordingly.

How do we use this knowledge to enhance our day-to-day life?

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It’s simple. Start your day with a power pose – or perhaps quickly go through a series of two power poses prior to a big meeting, a speaking event or other stressful situation. See if it enhances your confidence. Even if you don’t feel an immediate change, keep doing it as the posing may be influencing you in subtle ways you can’t detect. Over time, you may notice changes not only in your self-confidence but also how others react to you. The more confidence you convey, the more people will respond to you accordingly. And that’ll just help to drive up your confidence and feelings of dominance, sparking change in all facets of your life.

We all suffer from lack of confidence at some point in our lives. The power pose may be one way to not only “fake it till you make it,” but to fake it until you become the confident person you were always meant to be.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Ways to Get Rid of Negative Energy and Become Positive

7 Ways to Get Rid of Negative Energy and Become Positive

Negativity affects ourselves and everyone around us. It limits our potential to become something great and live a fulfilling, purposeful life. Negativity has a tangible effect on our health, too. Research has shown that people who cultivate negative energy experience more stress, more sickness, and less opportunity over the course of their lives than those who choose to live positively.

When we make a decision to become positive, and follow that decision up with action, we will begin to encounter situations and people that are also positive. The negative energy gets edged out by all positive experiences. It’s a snowball effect.

Although negative and positive thoughts will always exist, the key to becoming positive is to limit the amount of negativity that we experience by filling ourselves up with more positivity.

Here are some ways to get rid of negativity and become more positive.

1. Become Grateful for Everything

When life is all about us, it’s easy to believe that we deserve what we have. An attitude of entitlement puts us at the center of the universe and sets up the unrealistic expectation that others should cater to us, our needs, and our wants. This vain state of existence is a surefire way to set yourself up for an unfulfilled life of negativity.

People living in this sort of entitlement are “energy suckers”–they are always searching for what they can get out of a situation. People that don’t appreciate the nuances of their lives live in a constant state of lacking. And it’s really difficult to live a positive life this way.

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When we begin to be grateful and appreciate everything in our lives–from the small struggles that make us better, to the car that gets us from A to B every day–we shift our attitude from one of selfishness, to one of appreciation. This appreciation gets noticed by others, and a positive harmony begins to form in our relationships.

We begin to receive more of that which we are grateful for, because we’ve opened ourselves up to the idea of receiving, instead of taking. This will make your life more fulfilling, and more positive.

2. Laugh More, Especially at Yourself

Life gets busy, our schedules fill up, we get into relationships, and work can feel task oriented and routine-driven at times. Being human can feel more like being a robot. But having this work-driven, serious attitude often results in negative and performance oriented thinking.

Becoming positive means taking life less seriously and letting yourself off the hook. This is the only life that you get to live, why not lighten up your mood?

Laughter helps us become positive by lightening our mood and reminding us not to take life so seriously. Are you sensitive to light sarcasm? Do you have trouble laughing at jokes? Usually, people who are stressed out and overly serious get most offended by sarcasm because their life is all work and no play.

If we can learn to laugh at ourselves and our mistakes, life will become more of an experiment in finding out what makes us happy. And finding happiness means finding positivity.

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3. Help Others

Negativity goes hand in hand with selfishness. People that live only for themselves have no higher purpose in their lives. If the whole point of this world is only to take care of yourself and no one else, the road to a long-term fulfillment and purpose is going to be a long one.

Positivity accompanies purpose. The most basic way to create purpose and positivity in your life is to begin doing things for others. Start small; open the door for the person in front of you at Starbucks or ask someone how their day was before telling them about yours.

Helping others will give you an intangible sense of value that will translate into positivity. And people might just appreciate you in the process.

4. Change Your Thinking

We can either be our best coach or our best enemy. Change starts from within. If you want to become more positive, change the wording of your thoughts. We are the hardest on ourselves, and a stream of negative self talk is corrosive to a positive life.

The next time you have a negative thought, write it down and rephrase it with a positive spin. For example, change a thought like, “I can’t believe I did so horribly on the test–I suck.” to “I didn’t do as well as I hoped to on this test. But I know I’m capable and I’ll do better next time.”

Changing our self-talk is powerful.

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5. Surround Yourself with Positive People

We become most like the people that we surround ourselves with. If our friend group is full of negative energy-suckers and drama queens, we will emulate that behavior and become like them. It is very difficult to become more positive when the people around us don’t support or demonstrate positive behavior.

As you become more positive, you’ll find that your existing friends will either appreciate the new you or they will become resistant to your positive changes. This is a natural response.

Change is scary; but cutting out the negative people in your life is a huge step to becoming more positive. Positive people reflect and bounce their perspectives onto one another. Positivity is a step-by-step process when you do it solo, but a positive group of friends can be an escalator.

6. Get into Action

Negative thoughts can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate. Negativity is usually accompanied by a “freak-out” response, especially when tied to relationships, people and to worrying about the future. This is debilitating to becoming positive and usually snowballs into more worry, more stress and more freak-outs.

Turn the negative stress into positive action. The next time you’re in one of these situations, walk away and take a break. With your eyes closed, take a few deep breaths. Once you’re calm, approach the situation or problem with a pen and pad of paper. Write out four or five actions or solutions to begin solving the problem.

Taking yourself out of the emotionally charged negative by moving into the action-oriented positive will help you solve more problems rationally and live in positivity

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7. Take Full Responsibility, Stop Being the Victim

You are responsible for your thoughts.

People that consistently believe that things happen to them handicap themselves to a victim mentality. This is a subtle and deceptive negative thought pattern. Phrases like “I have to work” or “I can’t believe he did that to me” are indicators of a victim mentality. Blaming circumstances and blaming others only handicaps our decision to change something negative into something positive.

Taking full responsibility for your life, your thoughts and your actions is one of the biggest steps in creating a more positive life. We have unlimited potential within to create our own reality, change our life, and change our thoughts. When we begin to really internalize this, we discover that no one can make us feel or do anything. We choose our emotional and behavioral response to people and circumstances.

Make positive choices in favor of yourself.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny” ― Lao Tzu

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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