There is an emerging field in psychology known as embodied cognition, whose main premise is that our bodies and the world around us don’t only influence us, but are intimately woven within our thoughts.
Studies within this field have shown some interesting findings: Sitting in a hard chair makes people less willing to compromise than if they were in a soft chair; holding a heavy clipboard made people take their jobs more seriously; holding a warm drink made people judge another as more generous and caring than those holding cold drinks.
We use our bodies intentionally when we do things like shrug our shoulders, clap our hands, shake our heads, or roll our eyes. Other times, our bodies expose our moods or thoughts, such as when we unknowingly touch our neck and face or make our bodies take up less space.
We’ve known for a while that body language affects how others see you, but it can also affect how you see yourself. Although we don’t always notice what is going on with our body, we can purposefully alter our thinking and moods by becoming more aware and choosing how we hold ourselves.
Amy Cuddy is a social scientist and professor at Harvard. Her research in body language reveals that we can actually change our body chemistry simply by changing body positions. Her 2012 Ted Talk has been viewed over 5 million times, ranks among the top 15 most watched talks – and definitely gives us an interesting twist to the mind/body connection.