Being able to gauge someone’s mood by the way they walk is not a particularly new skill, but what about the idea of flipping it around and using movements to change our mood? Scientists have recently went to work figuring that one out. They came up with a way to test the ways in which people walked when they were feeling happy versus when they weren’t. My idea was that they should install tails onto the participants, because there is no doubt about when a dog is jazzed or not, the tail does not lie! It seems that, while my idea was brilliant, science is not yet on that level, so they had to do a different sort of experiment that did not involve any tail implants.
Researchers figured out that walking like a happy person can actually make you happier, even if you are otherwise pretty down in the dumps. People were told to walk on a treadmill after looking at a list of positive and then negative words, to determine if their walking was affected. Apparently, it was, and researchers were able to define a style of “happy walking” which was used as the standard. Big swinging arm motions was one of the main tell-tale signs of happiness (although not nearly as tell-tale as an actual tail, which would be a far superior indicator as I previously mentioned). The study also found that having good posture helped maintain a happy mood, and experts suggest walking with your shoulders back.
Using exaggerated movements to create an upbeat walking style may seem like a rather simple and silly way to lift the spirits, but it’s certainly worth a try. The struggles of life may be mostly unavoidable, but feeling depressed is usually a matter of vicious thought cycles. You can redirect those brain trains by focusing on something else, like your body motions. Oftentimes, it is the subtle differences that impact our perspectives the most, and all we really need to make ourselves feel better is to want that. Personally, all I really want right now is a tail, but I guess since cosmetic surgery is still stuck in the stone age I will have to make do with walking on my hands and knees. Pretending to be a puppy won’t make me a canine, but it will make my toddler laugh which will make me happy, at least until I remember about how much I still want a dang tail.