When a person damages a part of their brain, it can affect a whole range of behaviors including movement, language, vision, memory, self-control, and even emotions. However, while the brain has major influence over our body, did you know our physical actions can have just as much influence over the brain?
For example, forcing a smile can actually make you happy and reduce stress levels! In one study, researchers asked participants to hold chopsticks with their mouth – which forced them to activate the same facial muscles as a smile. It turns out that those who were smiling were able to cope with stressful tasks in the study much better than those who held a straight face the whole time!
Researchers also suggest that you can feel more powerful if you open your arms wide and create more personal space. For example, one study asked participants to adopt physical body postures typically associated with people who are in low-power and high-power positions. Those who were instructed to do high-power positions kicked their feet up on a desk and clasped their arms behind their head when sitting, then leaned over the desk with their hands far apart when standing. Meanwhile, those placed in low-power positions sat with closed legs and their hands clasped on their thighs, then stood with crossed legs and arms. Apparently, those who were in high-power positions were more likely to feel powerful and take risks later in the experiment, regardless of their gender.
Finally, adopting a peaceful, meditative-like position can help individuals order their thoughts and keep calm. For instance, in one study, experimenters asked participants to focus on the thoughts that were running through their brain and actively try to get rid of them. The volunteers were also asked to focus on their breathing. These physical actions reduced the influence of the brain area associated with random thoughts and wandering minds!
Who would have thought there was such obvious proof for the saying “mind over matter”?