The Happiness Connection  

Move in unison with someone else and boost your self-esteem

Movement and happiness

Do you pause regularly to think about your gallbladder, blood flow, or brain health?

If you do, I applaud you. However, you may be like me and countless others who ignore their body, or at least aspects of it, until something goes wrong.

Rather than waiting for problems to arise, there’s a simple way to care for every aspect of your wellbeing on a daily basis—increase the amount of time you spend moving. Regular movement has long been linked to improved mental and physical health. With daily exercise you can improve your circulation, brain function, metabolism, mental clarity and mood.

It turns out that physical movement has another benefit. Research suggests it can also increase self-esteem. Your self-esteem is how you value and perceive yourself. It’s very subjective and is something many people struggle with.

If you, now or in the past, have been fed a steady diet of disapproval from family, friends, teachers or other significant people in your life, you may have started to believe all the things they’ve been saying. Sometimes it isn’t the words they utter that cause you difficulties, actions can be just as harmful.

Low self-confidence affects your life in many ways, including relationships, academic and professional success, as well as mental health. Boosting your self-esteem can increase your happiness and help you achieve your full potential.

It turns out that by synchronizing your movement with someone else’s, you can also improve how you feel about yourself.

Psychologist Joanne Lumsden and her colleagues asked participants to do a simple activity with another person via video link. The prerecorded video showed a young woman in a similar room to them doing arm curls. The subjects were asked to perform the same exercise. Half were requested to synchronize their movement with the video, while the rest were asked to deliberately keep their arm curls out of synch with the person they were watching.

Each person filled out a mood report before and after they participated in the activity. It included how they felt about themselves and how close they felt to the person they were watching on the video.

The results revealed that when subjects intentionally synchronized their movements with those of the woman on the recording, they felt better about themselves. Those who were out of synch didn’t experience this. Synchronization also increased the level of closeness they felt to the person on the video.

Other studies support these findings. It turns out that synchronizing your movement with others increases cooperation, charitable feelings, and how much you like the other person or people you’re moving with. Additionally, it makes it easier to remember what people say and to recall what they look like.

The way your brain perceives your emotional state affects your movement. Think about the way you go about your day when you’re sad as opposed to when you’re excited. Different emotions result in different types of movement.

But it turns out the path between your body and your brain goes in both directions. Movement also changes the way your brain interprets your emotions and situation. If you feel out of sorts, try going for a walk. If you want to feel better about yourself, engage in an activity where your movement matches that of others. Try line dancing, walking in step (with someone) or dragon boat rowing.

Perhaps school days, board meetings and friendship circles should all start with a few synchronized movements. Coordinated finger snapping, clapping, singing or even chair rocking could be just what’s needed.

After all, feeling good about yourself and the people around you is key to a more harmonious and happy world.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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