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When you’re feeling down, what makes you feel positive; what gives you an optimistic, open, and powerful feeling? Many of us look outside of ourselves for a lift—watching a funny movie, spending time with a good friend, or allowing ourselves a special treat. While those are all fine ways to get a boost, is it possible to make the change internally? Researchers say yes. All you have to do is pretend.
According to social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, humans and animals exhibit their power in very similar ways–by making themselves bigger, stretching arms wide, and taking up a lot of space. As it turns out, this body language reflects a feeling of being dominant, which socially equals self-esteem and positivity. On the other hand, when a person or animal feels powerless they do the opposite–make themselves small or hunch up.
It’s clear that our minds affect our bodies. But Cuddy posed the question, can our bodies also affect our minds? She wondered if it is possible to also change how we feel and how we view ourselves simply by changing our body language. Essentially, can you fake it till you make it? They did an experiment to find out.
After submitting a saliva sample, the participants were asked to take on either a high-power pose or a low-power pose for two minutes. Afterwards, they gave each person the opportunity to gamble—an activity that could be either exhilarating or stressful, depending on your confidence level—and then tested their saliva again. The results were significant. Those who adopted high-power poses (stretched out, taking up lots of space) showed hormonal changes linked to greater assertiveness and confidence. Those who adopted low-power poses (folded up, smaller) had a more stress-reactive response.
This experiment tells us something very important about the body-mind connection. If we can change our moods simply by changing our body language, it’s possible to make continuous small shifts that ultimately change our lives in meaningful ways.
Kabbalists have known for centuries that when we don’t feel happy or positive, we can change our attitude by pretending our way to positivity. What’s more, this little tool is vital for building a stronger connection to the Creator. The Zohar says, “The energy of the words that come out of a person's mouth literally awakens the same type of energy from Above. If a person speaks good things, he awakens positive Light from Above. If a person speaks negatively, he awakens negative energy from Above.” Based on Cuddy’s research, we know that we can make ourselves feel more positive by changing the way we sit or stand. And when we feel well we do well. This small practice creates a chain reaction that leads to positive words and actions, and can help us build stronger connections to the Light and awaken positive shifts in our lives.
If our thoughts and actions create our reality, then it would benefit us to do everything we can to ensure that we direct those thoughts and actions towards the positive. The kabbalists teach that like attracts like. Michael Berg says that, “When we act thoughtfully and speak affirmatively, we inspire a surge of positive energy.” But what happens when we just aren’t feeling all that positive? When we entertain negative thoughts and feelings, we attract negativity into our lives.
It’s natural to have ups and downs in life. We are human, after all. And the downs are always opportunities to learn and grow. However, if we are not conscious, a bad day can turn into a bad week, a bad week can turn into a bad month, and so on until we feel trapped in a downward spiral. We can break this pattern by faking it until you make it. Pretend to be positive until you begin to actually feel positive. Stand tall, be open, and smile until your thoughts and actions follow your lead. Before you know it, you won’t be pretending any longer and your positivity will clear the way for many blessings and miracles.