Bad moods happen to us all– but what if they could be cured simply by walking differently?
No, really: according to research recently published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, the way a person walks could show the kind of mood they’re in– while also paving the way for how others will likely respond to them. Researchers found that people who walked with extra pep in their step were happier than those who just shuffled along.
According to Danny Penman, PhD, this study goes to show how we appear to think with our body as much as we do with our mind; specifically, the way in which our bodies unconsciously behave, influences the way we feel in any given circumstance. Walking mindfully is a great way to present yourself in a happier, more approachable, way to other people who may otherwise be disinterested in forging a relationship with you. This idea of mindful walking, Penman continues, “establishes on a very deep level” the undeniable link between the body and the mind.
This meditative exercise can be done as easy as “paying full, conscious attention” to how you’re walking. Focus on each step touching the ground, your hips rotating from side-to-side with each movement, the way your arms swing back-and-forth as you approach your given destination; by getting aware of each step, you can overcome even the slightest hint of a negative mood, only made more noticeable by the poor walking posture that you didn’t even know had transpired.
Boy, is this ever true in my life. I’ve walked plenty in my day, and I’ve come to find that whenever I’m tired, I’m more likely to feel grumpy– and when I walk that day, my stride is noticeably more sluggish and ungrateful for the wonderful life I really have. Not coincidentally, people have been less likely to approach me that day. It’s as though my walk is sending out a message to the world that says “I’m closed for business, folks. Keep movin’!” While I would obviously never say these things to other people, your walk can sometimes do all the talking for you. Don’t let your walk decide how you interact with others! Though this anecdotal evidence works just fine for me, do you remember a time when your unhappy walk affected the way others received you?
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