Life –Becoming, through Body Language

When I started this blog, I had one purpose and one purpose only: to force myself to write more, about anything at all, and in so doing grow as a writer. Even today, I’m still not actively trying to promote myself, because I want to have a more solid foundation to stand on before I push my name outwards.

That being said, I have to treat myself as if I’ve already “made it” now. People often say “Fake it till you make it”, and while this sounds stupid, it really is true. There is scientific evidence that proves “faking” body language and expressions has benefits not only for the impressions we give to other people, but the chemicals going through our bodies as we utilize certain body postures.

You may think that forcibly changing one’s mood by standing a certain way or holding a specific facial expression wouldn’t work, because there’s no intuitive evidence to point to that conclusion. How could faking a smile under hard times possibly uplift one’s mood?

It’s simple. By doing these things, it tells the body what chemicals it should produce more or less of. By taking a ‘power pose’, meaning to make oneself as large as possible by extending arms and legs outwrd, one’s testosterone levels increase, while one’s cortisol levels decrease. The hormone that makes one feel confident and powerful is more abundant, and the hormone that induces stress levels goes down. It doesn’t even have anything to do with the people around you because these changes are internal. Similarly, by sitting in a closed off position, with arms crossed and head down, testosterone goes down and cortisol goes up.

I’m sure you can imagine some possible applications for this knowledge. When you’re feeling powerless, you’d be inclined to take up as little space as possible, when in reality being open and out with one’s image will improve your mood even if nobody is there. In high stress situations, such as giving speeches, preparing for a job interview, etc., taking powerful poses even for a few minutes will reduce cortisol levels and thus make you less stressed.

In many cases, famous and powerful people didn’t get to where they are because they are natural born leaders who have an innate tendency to take charge. To deviate from the whole “body language” idea, J.R.R. Tolkien never would have published The Hobbit if somebody hadn’t come to him. He wasn’t really a writer, he was a professor and a linguist with an active imagination. He only wrote The Lord of the Rings because his publishers wanted a sequel to the children book that sold out immediately. Modern writers are often told they have to have a million words of experience before they’re good enough to get published. If that was the case, nobody would ever have heard of Tolkien. Instead, this professor that only wrote for his kids’ enjoyment was tasked with writing a second bestseller with little to no experience.

So he did what anyone would do in this situation and all but invented the fantasy genre.

Tolkien wasn’t a writer. He faked being a writer until he was famous for writing. “Fake it till you make it” isn’t just solid advice, it’s how the world works. If you fake anything long enough, you become it.

 

This TED Talk is where I got a lot of information for this post from. It’s enlightening and goes into far more depth than I ever could in five hundred words, so if you need more inspiration, here you go.

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