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I’m not crazy about walking the dog under any circumstances — I can think of so many other things I’d rather be doing — but the fun factor declines even more when it’s cold.

Just before daylight this morning, with the temperature hovering around 20 degrees, I bundled up in a long coat with a hat and scarf, pulled on some gloves, and headed outside with the mutt.

“Power poses,” from Amy Cuddy’s presentationIt wasn’t long before my head was hunched into my scarf, eyes pointed squarely at the ground. I was just plodding along when Banjo barked and I glanced up just in time to see the white flags of two deer crashing back into the woods. They had been standing right in front of me, but I missed them.

That reminded me of other days when I’ve walked with head down, not because of the cold, but because I was feeling sad or discouraged, drawing into myself rather than looking boldly at the world. More than once, I’ve walked right up on someone else out with their dogs, who aren’t always friendly.

Our posture can say a lot about us. Not long ago, a dear friend pointed me to an interesting video at Ted Talks, in which social psychologist Amy Cuddy talks about how our posture affects our outlook on life and even change our brain chemistry. Her research showed that adopting an open, assertive posture for as little as two minutes can lower levels of stress-inducing cortisol, and raise confidence-building testosterone.

Cuddy’s argument that our bodies can affect our minds is persuasive, and has encouraged me to sit up straight or walk with my head up whether I feel like it or not.

The psalmists knew something about this. When the author of Psalm 121 wrote “I will lift up my eyes to the hills,” his renewed confidence may have come from a more hopeful posture as well as from the Lord.

The next time you’re feeling down, you might want to try looking up.

 

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