This is not a new concept. Tony Robbins talks about state change often in his material – infact I would say that state change is the foundation of all of his motivational work. Jim Rohn, Zig Zigglar, and Earl Nightengale all advise us to “fake it until we make it.” To “act as if.” To stride forth with confidence and that real confidence will follow.
I finally internalized this concept today, after being exposed to it hundreds of times over the greater part of a decade.
I didn’t feel good this morning. I didn’t feel like doing anything. I binged on the Gwent beta over the weekend. Playing the game all day and night combined with daylight savings time meant I was sleep deprived and in a bad head space. But I’d built up momentum over the last two weeks with my routine of morning journaling, meditation, and exercise that I decided to go through the motions anyway. And if I still didn’t feel like doing anything then at least I’d have exercised.
I did a simple HIIT circuit on the floor. Three sets of kettlebell swings and burpees. I was done in 15 minutes. And my mood had done a complete 180.
Whereas before I was tired, unmotivated, and filled with negative thoughts I now am hopeful and energized. It took me a good half hour of procrastinating while pretending to read a book before I mustered up the motivation to exercise. But from there I flowed immediately into working on this post with no resistance.
We know that our minds and bodies are intimately linked but I think too often we ignore the body-mind connection and focus our attention wholly on the mind-body connection. We know that negative thinking can cause us to become hopeless, depressed, and sick. But did you know that simply changing your posture you can change your mood?
Here are three fascinating things that happened once our posture changes:
- For example, when we sit up straight, we are more likely to remember positive memories or think of something positive in general, according to this experiment.
- Another insight was that if we skip during breaks, we can significantly increase our energy levels. A slow, slumped walk on the other hand, can do the exact opposite and drain us of our energy.
- The study also found that those who were most affected by depression before the study found their energy drained more than others. http://lifehacker.com/the-science-behind-posture-and-how-it-affects-your-brai-1463291618
Check Your Posture
I’ve been keeping track of my mood and energy levels on a little spreadsheet. It’s fascinating how dramatically it changed over the weekend. On Friday I was an 7 on happiness, a 3 on depression, and a 7 on energy. On Saturday I was a 5 on happiness, a 5 on depression, and a 4 on energy. On Sunday I was 4 on happiness, 8 on depression, and 2 on energy. What changed? I spent the weekend slumped over my laptop on the couch playing Gwent. I didn’t exercise except for a short trip to the gym on Saturday and a small walk on Sunday. Literally my entire day was spent in a sedentary position hunched over my computer. I think that this posture and lack of movement was the culprit of my deteriorating mood and low energy. Not the video game itself but the posture I was playing it in and the lack of movement. For 12 hours a day my body was giving the signal to my brain to be tired and to feel less confident – because that’s what the studies have shown the hunched over posture signals.
The link from expansive postures to feeling and acting in a powerful way was elegantly demonstrated in a recent publication in Psychological Science. Dana Carney and Andy Yap from Columbia University and Amy Cuddy from Harvard University found that open, expansive postures (widespread limbs and enlargement of occupied space by spreading out one’s body), compared with closed, constricted postures (limbs touching the torso and minimization of occupied space by collapsing the body inward), increased feelings of power and an appetite for risk. To measure the appetite for risk, these researchers gave participants $2 and told them they could keep this money or roll a die and risk losing the $2 for a payout of $4 (a risky but rational bet since the odds of winning were 50/50). Participants who had been placed in the expansive posture reported feeling significantly more “powerful” and “in charge” and were also 45% more likely to roll the die.
More impressively, expansive postures also altered the participants’ hormone levels. Using salivary samples, Carney and colleagues found that expansive postures led individuals to experience elevated testosterone (T) and decreased cortisol (C). This neuroendocrine profile of High T and Low C has been consistently linked to such outcomes as disease resistance and leadership abilities. Although past research has found that occupying a powerful role leads to expansive postures, Carney et al.’s paper is the first to investigate the reciprocal relationship – the causal effect of posture on the mental experience of power. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-you-can-become-more-p/
How to Change your State
- Exercise. Of course. So many of our problems can be solved with exercise. The studies show that 20 minutes of aerobic activity is the most beneficial for improving your mood. However it can be tough to work up the motivation to go outside and jog for 20 minutes or to go to the gym when you’re feeling low. So you can do a simple circuit at home. Burpees are your friend. Do five rounds of burpees with 2 minutes of work and 1 minute of rest. It’ll only take 15 minutes and by the end you’ll have burned more calories than a 60 minute jog and reap similar levels of mood improvement.
- Take a cold shower. That’s my task after I finish this blog post. The shock of the cold will kick start a cascade of endorphines and adrenaline and you’ll feel a nice high for the next two hours.
- Stand up tall and stretch your arms over your head in a victory pose. It sounds silly but again the studies show that it actually elevates your testosterone and makes you feel more powerful.
- Game and work at a standing desk. Avoid that hunched over posture. Build a cue that with each new game you’re going to hold a victory pose for 5 seconds.
I know a lot of this sounds like stupid motivational platitudes but it works. Try it for yourself. You will be amazed at how simple it actually is to change your mood. And if you can change your mood then you can change your life.