Have you ever found yourself with your head in your hands at the end of a long day’s work, or slumped over in defeat following a particularly difficult argument with a friend or partner? You may think that your body language is a natural response to your experiences, but what if the connection ran both ways? Research shows that our posture is directly linked to our moods and ability to recall positive memories, and that in changing how we hold our bodies we can influence our own moods.
The work of San Francisco State University professor Erik Peper has demonstrated that there is a close link between your body language, feelings, and thoughts. Specifically, Peper has shown that when individuals make a conscious effort to stand or sit up straight, they are better able to recall happy memories, and to feel more positive about life in general.
Continued research in this study has backed up this notion that the mind follows where the body leads. For example, people who are forced to smile are more likely to find a joke amusing than those who are allowed complete control over their facial expressions.
This line of thinking is not new. The philosopher and psychologist William James (1842-1910) was among the first academics to speculate whether our body language merely reflected our emotional state, or played a more active role in dictating our mood. James’s belief that our feelings are shaped not only by external events, but the way we respond to them is enjoying increasing support from contemporary science.
So the next time you need a quick boost, why not change your mind by changing the way in which you hold your body? It could make all the difference and leave you feeling significantly happier.
|||^||SFGATE: How posture influences mood, energy, thoughts|