Stand straight and feel bet­ter

The Covington News - - Front page -

“ Don’t slouch!” was the stern ad­mon­ish­ment to those of us who did not sit or stand straight from Mrs. Broughton, my eighth grade teacher. She told us that we would per­form bet­ter if we stood and sat proudly. As it turns out, she was right. Not only did I sit up straighter and even­tu­ally get an “A” in her class, but years later now read of stud­ies of pos­ture and its ef­fects on emo­tions that re­veal the truth of her teach­ing. Hold­ing your head high and throw­ing your shoul­ders back can help you feel bet­ter in many sit­u­a­tions.

Si­mone Sch­nall at the Uni­ver­sity of Ply­mouth in the United King­dom and James Laird at At­lanta’s Clark Uni­ver­sity have con­ducted stud­ies that show that adopt­ing pos­tures and fa­cial ex­pres­sions as­so­ci­ated with hap­pi­ness leads to more pos­i­tive au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal mem­o­ries than those who em­body sad­ness or anger. Bet­ter pos­ture will not re­move the sting of get­ting laid off, but it may help to cre­ate rosier in­ter­pre­ta­tions of everyday, neu­tral cir­cum­stances, such as in­tro­duc­ing your­self to a group of strangers.

Paula Nieden­thal is a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Univer­sité Blaise Pas­cal in France who has re­searched the re­la­tion­ship be­tween pos­ture and emo­tion. She states, “ Peo­ple with their chins down and their shoul­ders rounded are go­ing to be less re­cep­tive to po­ten­tially good in­for­ma­tion.” So sit erect when re­ceiv­ing praise and it will in­ten­sify the flow.

Sci­en­tists are also dis­cov­er­ing that neu­rons in­volved in sen­sa­tions, mo­tor func­tions and emo­tional mem­o­ries are highly in­ter­con­nected. This means that an act like smil­ing can ac­ti­vate the emo­tional state that usu­ally ac­com­pa­nies it. Put a smile on your face and you en­cour­age neu­rons to mimic the pat­terns they cre­ate when your grin is un­con­trol­lable. In other words, if you are putting on an act for oth­ers to see, you just might end up fool­ing your­self, too.

To be­come a more upright ci­ti­zen, straighten your spine, roll your shoul­ders back and raise your chin. For added con­fi­dence, put your hands on your hips. The most po­tent mood ef­fects oc­cur when you use both fa­cial ex­pres­sions and pos­ture. Get in the habit of do­ing pe­ri­odic pos­ture drills, like ev­ery time you hang up the phone. And fi­nally, of course, don’t slouch!

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