In our last +1, we talked about the fact that the word courage comes from the Latin word for “heart.” Just as our heart pumps blood to the rest of our body, our COURAGE pumps energy to our other virtues.
Here’s one of the simplest, easiest and most powerful ways to build your courage in any given moment.
Strike a pose.
A courageous, power pose.
As we’ve discussed so many times, the relationship between our feelings and our behaviors is what researchers describe as “bidirectional.” It goes both ways. Science says that feelings FOLLOW behavior at least as much as the other way around. In other words, by simply taking certain actions, we can influence how we feel.
Amy Cuddy has demonstrated this in her lab at Harvard.
In her great book Presence, she tells us that we all E X P A N D when we feel most powerful.
Get this: Even blind athletes, who have never seen anyone else do it, will strike that victorious “V!” pose with arms triumphantly up in the air when they win a race.
So, she started her research with this question: “Since we naturally expand our bodies when we feel powerful, do we also naturally feel powerful when we expand our bodies?”
Spoiler alert: YES!!!
In one study, individuals were split into two groups. One group assumed “low-power” poses in which they, essentially, took up less space (sitting while slouching, with their hands close to their bodies and standing with their legs close together, and their arms close to their bodies and their heads down). The other group assumed “high-power” poses in which they EXPANDED and took up more space (sitting in a relaxed, confident manner with legs out and hands behind head; standing like Wonder Woman or Superman with hands on hips, chin up and feet wide apart).
After only TWO minutes of posing, here’s what happened: “the high-power posers showed a 19 percent increase in testosterone and a 25 percent decrease in cortisol. Low-power posers showed the opposite pattern—a 10 percent decrease in testosterone and a 17 percent increase in cortisol, the exact pattern we predicted.”
That pattern is known as the dual hormone hypothesis. High testosterone + low cortisol = HIGH power. Low testosterone + high cortisol = LOW power.
Think about that: Two minutes of posing produced those dramatic shifts in biology. Simply moving our bodies in a more expansive way significantly boosts our confidence and power.
That’s Today’s +1. Feel the difference between going through life in a low-power, shrunken state vs. expanding into your most powerful self.