power poses

30 Second Smile

The other night we were having a difficult dinner hour.  In our house, this consists of whining, shouting, tapping of spoons on plates, food waste, and pretty much any other shenanigans the children can get up to while seated for dinner!  Rob was inspired by our recent discussions related to my blog post on posing to try and help the kids out of their ‘funk’ by playing a game called ‘The 10 Second Smile.’  Little did they know that he was subversively leading them out of their discontent…

They participated in the game willingly.  Calling something a ‘game’ usually helps to increase the appeal of participation around here.  In any case, we all held our smiles while Rob counted to 10.  Then the rowdiness resumed.  After a few more loud minutes, Rob suggested we play ’30 Second Smile’ instead.  They again participated willingly, perhaps because the ‘game’ was creating a safe space for them to be silly.  After the second round, the children were more calm and generally happy.  Rob’s ‘game’ bought us about 20-25 minutes of time where the children were responsive and engaged, just enough time to get through dinner.

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Actions Speak

“How can I know who I am until I see what I do? How can I know what I value until I see where I walk?”

~Karl Weick

I watched a wonderful TED Talk last night about how our actions impact our mindset, regardless of intent.  It is clear that what we are thinking or feeling at any given time affects our actions, but the scientist in the video set about looking at how our body’s actions can change the way our brain functions. I think intrinsically I knew this, based on how different I feel when I’m up and moving versus sitting at the computer for too long I just hadn’t expanded this thought to include all that I do with my physical body.

The study was of people who were asked to take on a ‘power pose’ (think superhero or a CEO with feet up on a desk).    What they found was that testosterone rose and cortisol levels decreased when a ‘power pose’ was held for just two minutes.  Similar to how holding a pencil between your teeth without letting your lips touch it replicates a smile and can improve your mood despite lacking the intent of an actual smile, the ‘power poses’ changed brain functioning at a chemical level to give the gift of confidence.  If you look to nature, even amongst different species of animals, certain body postures are common across the board.  Crossed and huddled postures denote shyness or withdrawing, while wide open and tall postures exude confidence.  They extended the experiment to have people go through a  fabricated job interview with and without first ‘power posing.’  It was all done blindly, so the researchers at the end didn’t know what conditions they were judging, meaning who had posed/not posed.  100% of the time, the people who had done the ‘power poses’  were chosen for ‘hire.’  Amazing.

So what conclusions did they draw?  The researcher summed it up with the euphemism, “Fake it ’til you make it!”  But she took it one step further.  After she started taking her own advice, she realized that she had become what she had wanted to be; a confident public speaker.  So she changed the saying to “Fake it ’till you become it.”

I’m still thinking through the implications of this information but for now, I’ll be posing.