Happiness and Choosing Challenge Over Threat, Part III

Have you ever wondered what happens when the alpha male gorilla kicks it? Me neither, because it’s obvious – another male gorilla steps up and becomes leader. But did you know that within a few days that gorilla’s body chemistry has changed? Leaders across the board (of species and professions) typically have high testosterone and low cortisol. In other words, a high level of dominance hormone and a low level of stress hormone. Confident and cool-headed – great leader characteristics. Whether you’re a gorilla or a human, changing roles can change your body chemistry (which means you’ll feel different physically and emotionally). And here’s a neat behavioral bit for those of us who like a quick fix (who doesn’t?): your posture can also change your body chemistry. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at the Harvard Business School, ran an experiment on physical poses that demonstrated their influence on our chemistry, behavior, and emotions. People who assumed high-power poses for two minutes experienced an increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol and displayed greater confidence and risk-taking behavior than people who adopted low-power poses for two minutes. So as you wait for your job interview to start you might choose to sneak into a bathroom stall and stand like Wonder Woman for a couple of minutes. Then wait for the job offers to roll in!