Down, Lizzy Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Monday, 29 July 2013 02:44
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“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.”

No, this wasn’t uttered by a loser dope-head, but by the late Steve Jobs, best known as co-founder of Apple Inc.

Misfits, he said. Yes, the word carries a huge cringe-ability factor. We all to some sort of extent want to belong. And whether we fit in with the group or the person we’ve just met or not, we usually know it instantaneously. Not with hindsight.

According to Helen Fisher of Rutgers University, it take less than 90 seconds to determine if we like someone, and less than 30% of it has anything to do with what the person says to us. The attraction to another person is primarily based on pheromones and body language.

Never-ever think that body language is insignificant. It can predict who we hire, who we buy from, and who we end up spending the rest of our lives with. So much for rational decision-making; the term ‘snap judgement’ would be far more apt.

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy says that humans and animals react alike to certain kinds of body language. Amy is a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School, where she studies how nonverbal behaviour affects people from the classroom to the boardroom.

Dominance behaviour is easy, and usually quite comical, to pick up in animals and, of course, in men. (Girlfriend, just think The Haka on the rugby field.)

But here’s the thing: your body language doesn’t only influences others, but also your own brain.

Amy’s studies show how power posing, even when you don’t feel confident, can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain.

See, cortisol is one of the stress hormones and it’s not all that great to have high levels of it. Amy says that if you feel low on power, you will have high cortisol levels, but if you’re high on power, you’ll have low cortisol.

Harvard Business School is interested in researching how your cortisol levels impact on your chances of success. But just think how it influences your health. In her book, ‘Mind over medicine: Scientific proof that you can heal yourself’, author Lissa Rankin explains the influence cortisol has.

She says that the body knows how to heal itself. It’s equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that fight cancer, prevent infection, repair wounds and protect us from infectious agents and foreign bodies.

But, these natural self-repair mechanisms get deactivated when your body is full of stress hormones in “fight-or-flight” mode.

It’s the not-so-smart part of your brain, the amygdala, which trips the fight-or-flight switch. Lissa explains that blood flow is then shunted to your large muscle groups, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure goes up. When your amygdala, which can be described as your primitive lizard brain, thinks you’re about to be eaten by a lion, the body’s self-repair operations halt until the threat is over.

The problem is that in a typical day at work, poor Lizzy the lizard brain trips the fight-or-flight switch about 50 times because she cannot tell the difference between a real threat and a perceived one.

You can outsmart your resident Lizzy simply by relaxing, so that your cortisol levels drop and your body’s self-repair mechanisms can get back to doing what they do best – healing you.

There are as many ways to do this as there are personality types. For example, playing with pets fills us with oxytocin and endorphins that support the body’s self-healing mechanisms.

Creative expression does the same; it releases feel-good neurotransmitters, which slows down your breathing, lowers your heart rate, decreases your blood pressure and your cortisol levels.

And then, the fact that it is always in giving that we receive. And this is a selfish thing, really. When you give, you fool poor Lizzy into thinking that she lives in a state of abundance. An alternative take on tithing, isn’t it?

So, sit back, girlfriend. Straighten your shoulders, casually drape your arm over the sofa’s back rest, stretch your legs and take up as much space as possible. Your mind might just follow your body’s lead.

If you do it often enough, you’ll realise that your body probably changes your mind more often than your mind changes your body.


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