Body Language 101. Seeing Past The Words.

“Head up, chin up, chest out” When people can see we feel low they often say phrases like this to us to make us feel better. Although their advice is often ignored, if practised,it can be an almost instant short cut to feeling better.

Although this sounds like a bold claim to make, body language experts across the world agree that behaviours that appear to defy gravity e.g. holding your head high or walking on your toes rather than the balls of your feet, are generally signs of a more positive and confident mental state.

Combining this with evidence from brain imaging studies, it seems that our actions can affect our thoughts just as much as our thoughts can affect our actions. To put it simply, practising gravity defying behaviours when we feel down in the dumps might be the best way to cheer us up.

Although we can consciously choose to use gravity defying behaviours as a way to manage negative emotions and make us feel confident, natural gravity defying behaviours happen without us thinking.

Controlled by a part of our brain with a fancy name that we will just call the “emotion centre”, these behaviours generally reflect a persons true thoughts and feelings. So the next time you find yourself wondering what your partner, friend or family member is thinking, keep an eye out for gravity defying behaviours, a lack of them may be a subtle clue that all is not as well as words would have us think.

Top Gravity Defying Behaviours Include:

1 Genuine Smile

2 Thumbs up

3 Toes/foot pointed up

4 Standing tall and straight

5 Head held high, hands in the air like you just won a 100 meter sprint

6 Dancing

Evolution Wasn’t Prepared For Logistics, Fridges And Fast Food

Our brain has evolved to get as much energy as it can, when it can, by expending as little as it can! With a brain like this it is not as easy as it sounds just to rationalise and tell ourselves that junk food is bad for us. Our brain simply isn’t wired to check food labels, its wired to say, hell that burger has all the energy I need for one day, give me that!

Our brain is pretty much the same as it was thousands of years ago. The problem is, advancements in technology and logistics have created a world where there is no need to stock up on food. Food supply is reliable and on demand. So although it may have been handy for our ancestors to eat as much food as possible, in today’s world, this mindset does more harm than good.

So what can we do about this evolutionary hangup? Its quite simple really, we don’t have to get rid of junk food completely, we just have to make sure it is out of sight and more difficult to get to than the alternative.

So rather than putting junk food on display, instead try putting it out of sight, out of reach and out of mind. Instead of including treats in your weekly shop, try making yourself walk to the shop to get them. You will be amazed how much less tasty coca cola is when you actually have to walk to the shop to buy a single can every time.

The point is, because of evolution, we are designed to take the path of least resistance to our conserve energy. So if you want to adopt a healthy habit (or any habit for that matter), you have to work with your evolution not against it. Put simply, if you want to adopt a habit, you must make the path to that habit as resistance free as possible!

Life Hack (communication 101)

1. Stop looking around the room!

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was playing with something, stood side on to you, or who kept looking over your shoulder as you talked? It doesn’t feel nice does it, rude in fact.

The thing is, we don’t have to dislike or be disinterested in someone to do this. Weather its because we’re starving and can’t stop thinking about tea, or because we’re stressed and worried about deadlines, right or wrong, body language such as looking around the room while someone is talking to us communicates the same message, that we would rather be somewhere else talking to someone else! So, the next time you catch yourself fiddling with a pen lid whilst someone is talking to you, stop, put yourself in the other persons shoes, and ask yourself, do I really want to communicate disinterest to this person?

If the the answers no, remember, your actions often tell a different story to your words, so stop playing with your tie and looking around the room, face the person head on, look them straight in the eye, and show them what they mean to you by giving them your full attention. After all, “Five minutes spent fully engaging with one person as if he or she is the only thing in the room at the moment is worth 10 times more than 15 minutes half-heartedly tittering on about the dullest subjects”

Especially on dates…

Emotions Are Rapid Not Rational

I read a post the other day on Linked in about the habits of highly successful people. Since I’ve come across this same point in many great books and interviews, I thought it was worth sharing again with my own spin on it.

It is said that rather than letting emotions felt in the moment blindly guide them into making gut decisions, highly successful individuals tend to wait, ruminate and rationalise before acting. Now this makes perfect sense, because despite emotions uncanny ability to make us feel like we are doing the right thing, emotions job is not to help us make good decisions, it is simply to allow us to make quick and dirty decisions to freeze, flee or fight when threatened (a process perfectly streamlined by evolution to bypass concious input and reasoning) Now although automatic emotional behaviour sounds great, almost like a handy autopilot in our brain, the system simply hasn’t evolved fast enough to deal with the new kind of “threats” such as arguments, career choices, business decisions etc that we face in everyday modern life, a factor that we should all bare in mind before we decide to act when we are emotionally aroused.

Recognizing and managing emotions is the key to minimising unnecessary conflict and effective decision making.

So the next time you catch yourself charging into making a decision without thinking, remember, our emotions are designed to be rapid not rational! Allow time to gain clarity and compose your thoughts, sleep on it, count to ten, walk away, but whatever you do, don’t trust your emotions to make the right decision in the heat of the moment.

Why Do People Become Dr’s For Their Parents Not Themselves?

Psychologist Carl Rogers came up with a theory called the congruency theory. He believed that we have and actual self (who we are now) and an ideal self (who we want to be). Rogers believed that the more the two selves overlap, the happier we will be. The problem is, our ideal self is not just who we want to be these days, its also who our parents want us to be, who our partner wants us to be, and even through media, who society wants us to be.

Now this is a problem for two reasons. One, because who your parents/partner/society wants you to be may not fit your unique talents traits and abilities. And two, because the pressure people’s/society’s expectations put on you can cause tremendous stress, and in many instances (e.g. the poor kid who failed to get into Med school like his parents dreamt) can cripple a persons self esteem, leaving them feeling worthless and extremely unhappy.

So the next time you catch yourself judging somebodies aspirations, remember, humanity is diverse, and as such, so are peoples skills and abilities. Don’t make people feel unsuccessful just because they’re not pursuing the same goals as you. So what if little Jack Jr doesn’t want to become a lawyer like you did, becoming a lawyer doesn’t define success! Invest energy in the reward and engorgement of others true talents and passions and you will help create a far happier, exciting and successful society.

This is one of the keys to happiness, don’t underestimate its significance.