You’ve probably been told to sit up straight a few times in your life, turns out there’s a good reason to follow that advice. Sitting or standing with a slouch can lead to abnormal spine alignment, which can affect our overall health and leave us with problems for the rest of our lives.
There are short-term effects too. Positioning your body with a slouch can cause you to feel sad and depleted of energy, as a study from San Francisco State University found. They also discovered that changing your posture to an upright position can cause an improvement in mood and energy.
2. Crossed Arms
Folding the arms is a defense mechanism, used to protect our heart and lungs. We often resort to it when we feel nervous, insecure, or negative towards something or someone. Monkeys have also been observed making the same gesture in similar threatening situations.
Crossing our arms has shown to make people more persistent, and willing to work longer on difficult problems even when we feel like quitting.
We might not want that strong attitude when dealing with other people, however, as the physical barrier it represents could not only give the impression that you’re not open to the other person’s opinion, but you might literally become less open to them.
3. Eye Contact
There’s a power to eye contact, staring into another’s eyes creates arousal — good or bad depending on circumstances. It also makes you better at interpreting fake from real smiles, and could give away your lies.
A study conducted in 1989 found that if two acquainted people gazed into each other’s eyes for two minutes, that was enough to create higher feelings of affection and passion. Another study found that under the gaze of anthers eye contact, we become more self-aware.
Making Use Of The Loop
Body language has been around for longer than we have, and it’s a remarkably universal function. That being said, not everything we say with our bodies occurs between everyone.
We should all be aware that different hand gestures can mean one thing where you live, and something entirely different to another culture. There are also some striking differences between both men and women, particularly when one is trying to attract the other.
Even with the differences, we give away a great deal of information about our inner thoughts and feelings through our bodies, and we also interpret a great deal from the body language of others.
This language, like that of spoken language, is not only between people. We speak to ourselves all the time, and so do our bodies. They help shape our experiences, moods, and thoughts through embodied cognition.
“It would appear that the way we feel emotions isn’t just restricted to our brain—there are parts of our bodies that help and reinforce the feelings we’re having,” says Michael Lewis, “It’s like a feedback loop.”1
This behavioral and cognitive loop defines much of what we do. The actions and expressions we engage in alter our thoughts, and these thoughts then create emotions that affect our bodies.
By learning to hack this loop we can design the best thoughts and emotions for the situation, not to mention portray the right body language to those around us. How does your body language differ from the words you say? And how might it be affecting your thoughts?