photo: Scott Schiller on flickr

photo: Scott Schiller on flickr

I’ve always been annoyed by people with good posture.

You know the type. They have a stick magic fairy wand that’s been shoved gently positioned up their butt  into the center of their magic fairy body.

Maybe it was an overreaction, but people with good posture used to make me nervous.

Like they were about to pull out a whistle and make me do 50 pushups. Followed by a 12-point obstacle course and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

And then, when that was over, they would suggest that I, like them, should start standing up straight and tall.

They would tell me that it was good for me. That winners stand up straight. That only losers slouch.

Who me? Stand up straight and tall?

photo: Melissa Phillippe

photo: Melissa Phillippe

I come from a family of slouchers. It’s a tradition.

We are a tall people. And we don’t want the world to be intimidated by our height, so we bring it down a little. So no one will be alarmed.

Except it turns out I was totally wrong.

I was recently introduced to the work of Erik Peper, a professor at San Francisco State University. Peper has done studies about the link between good posture and a positive attitude.

The bottom line? (Or should I say, the straight line?!)

Our posture profoundly affects how we feel.

When we stand up straight, we feel more confident and empowered. When we slouch, we feel like crap.

photo: Alex on flickr

photo: Alex on flickr

And it’s not just in our minds. Good posture brings more oxygen to our bodies. It also decreases our levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and increases our levels of testosterone, which makes us feel more confident.

To test this theory, I tried a little experiment. You can try it too.

Slouch, and then say, I suck and I’m no good. It feels true, right?

Now, stand or sit up straight and say the same thing.

I don’t know about you, but when I try saying I suck with good posture, it just bounces off me. It’s like a have a powerful force field surrounding my body, and I suck can’t get through.

photo: Jason Eppink on flickr

photo: Jason Eppink on flickr

Given that I have a history of commitment to both slouching and positive thinking, hearing about the work of Dr. Peper challenged me to try something new.

I decided to give this good posture thing a try.

Finally, I had a good motivation to stand up straight. Not to be morally superior, but to feel better. I was curious to put Dr. Peper’s findings into practice.

There was only one problem.

Turns out I had horrible posture. I slouched when I walked. I slouched when I sat. I even slouched when I slept.

But I kept at it. Little by little, I started to improve.

Early into my little experiment, I saw this video posted on Facebook:

The tips I learned here, like putting a pillow behind my back when I’m at my computer, really helped.

Day by day, I started to notice that I had more energy. I was feeling lighter and more positive.

When I walked, instead of hiding inside myself, I felt like I was leading with my heart.

When I was in challenging situations or around challenging people, I was less affected.

In fact, it was very much like a magic fairy wand had been gently positioned into the center of my magic fairy body.

magic fairy one done

The whole experience reminded me that we folks who tout the importance of positive thinking often leave the body out of the equation.

But we do so at our own peril.

Though peril sounds a bit catastrophic. It’s hard to sit up straight and say peril.

Let’s say it this way: Don’t leave your body out of the equation!

Let it help you have more energy! And think more positively! And get along better with others!

And the best part? There’s no 12 point obstacle course or a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance involved.

Just you. And your body magic fairy wand.

photo: JD Hancock on flickr

photo: JD Hancock on flickr

Have you noticed a connection between your posture and your mood? Share your comments below!

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