Did you know you can change your brain chemistry by sitting or standing a certain way for two minutes?
Amy Cuddy is a scientist. Her research, sparked by her own near-death car accident and resulting brain trauma, as well as the fight to recover, led her to undertake some intriguing research. She wondered if a person could move, pose, or operate their body in such a way as to prompt the release of chemicals that affect one’s emotions. Here’s what she learned, and her research has been replicated enough times by others to trust its veracity:
Certain postures can cause a measurable change in hormone levels.
In the most striking example of this, Cuddy and her team proved through before-and-after saliva tests that certain “power poses” caused test subjects to experience a 19% increase in testosterone and a 25% decrease in cortisol. “Low power” poses showed a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 17% increase in cortisol.
Why is this important?
Testosterone is the hormone that helps you feel confident and self-assured, more open to growth, success, and opportunity.
Cortisol relates to feelings of anxiety. High cortisol = greater stress.
According to Amy Cuddy
Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behavior, and our behavior changes our lives.
I can’t possibly tell you all the good news about how posture can help or hurt you, but I absolutely recommend the book. If you buy it, know that the first five chapters are deep with science. The fun part, what to do with that information, starts in Chapter Six. This is where you can see examples of helpful or unhelpful poses.
Or the short/quick version: below is Cuddy’s TED talk that went viral and started a movement. In it, she documents the value of stance and posture. She says you can change your hormone levels (and thus, your chance of success in challenging situations) by, among other simple fixes, posing like Wonder Woman for just two minutes beforehand. (Hands on hips, chin slightly elevated, feet slightly apart. As if your cape is flowing behind you.)
This video went viral and has changed the lives of thousands across the globe. Many of those anecdotes are in the book. Bottom line:
“Carrying yourself in a powerful way directs your feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and body to feel powerful and be present (and even perform better) in situations ranging from the mundane to the most challenging.”
Here is Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk. Watch it with your kids. You might need tissues at the end.