I recently watched this amazing TED Talk by Amy Cuddy about how your body language shapes who you are, and I find it a great place to share my thoughts on Halloween. Here we are, in the shadow of Superstorm Sandy, with many people still without electricity and so much damage done to the Northeast of the US. With even Wall Street coming to a halt for two days, we are reminded of the power of nature. We are humbled. Not only has much of the US lost power (i.e. electricity), but a storm like this. or an illness, or tough social circumstances can make us feel powerless. It forces us to rebuild, some heroes fly in and may help in the disaster, but how we view ourselves and our identity impacts the direction our lives go, even in the depths of challenging times.
Amy Cuddy reminds us also of the power of nature, but in a different way. She teaches us that our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior and our behavior changes our outcomes. This goes well with my advice about the mind-body connection stresses “Believe in Yourself, Believe in Your Health.” She helps illustrate that “how” you dress up or pose for the world also shapes that mind-body connection.
Many children in the Northeast will not be trick or treating this year (after missing it last year from a snowstorm). Where can they wear their costumes? What is a costume? Cuddy shares that her research showed that placing your body in a “power stance” like Superman or Wonderwoman for two minutes actually changes your body hormones by lowering cortisol and increasing testosterone. She shares the idea that you can “fake it till you become it”and that “tiny tweaks can lead to big changes.”
The book I am currently writing addresses some of the power of the white coat for the doctor and the meaning of that. When I lived in New Zealand I worked at a clinic whose name translated into “The Cloak of Wellness.” It all fits together. This has great implications for obesity, health and student performance and medical practice.
As parents, we know that research shows that children often fulfill the labels they are given. Patients’ trust of doctors is impacted by our body language. The labels of medical diagnoses such as cancer or chronic pain, place a cloak of expectations. This is powerful stuff. Explore what your costume or your child’s costume is this Halloween. Consider that it can empower you to stance your body in a way that helps shape your mind. Start by practicing it today in your real or virtual costume.
Sometimes our Superman Capes will get caught and the costume seems fake or not genuine. Practice. Part of healthy healing is giving the power back to you. This view of how body language contributes also gives you power. With whatever stress that has blown into your life that turned off your power, start taking some of the energy back with even two minute intervals.
Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk and tell me what you think. Wear your own cloak of wellness and stand firm in the power of you!