Archive for the ‘Life Skills’ category

How the Body and Brain Discipline Each Other

May 16, 2012

It seems obvious at first, but the implications are profound. You hear a tragic story; your body reacts: a slower breathing, blinking, and heart rate come about. If it’s dramatically tragic, you may begin to tear and choke up. The “brain” aspect of you heard a story, and directed a set of reactions in your body. Alternatively, it is now commonly known that if someone is in a terrible mood, they may forcibly smile and slowly their mood will turn around. If you’re thinking quickly in a stressed state, forcing yourself to stop…and take a series of slow and deep breaths: your thinking will slow down and become more concentrated. So we may say that the body may discipline the brain, and conversely, the brain may discipline the body. The implications of these experiences run against long-held views of how the brain and body exist with each other.

Historically, the modern age has held a dualistic view of the whole human being. The distinction is drawn between the body and the mind, which stems from the division of matter and of thought. Thoughts do not have weight, they may not be measured, and they are “inside of our minds”; vis-à-vis we cannot point at them. Matter does have weight, can be pointed at, and be observed by many people at once. Thus in the 17th century, the philosopher Rene Descartes separated man into two realms; one of matter and one of thought, meaning, one of the body, and one of the mind. His metaphysical treatise on the human being reigned until recently, with philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Dewey, and Bergson, having shown so many problems with Descartes’ metaphysics, that it is no longer a seriously considered view. In the last century, neuroscience and other disciplines have renewed Descartes’ distinction to a division between the body and the brain; allowing for a mistaken reconsideration that the brain and body are two mutually exclusive and independent things that “are human.”

Thus the otherwise commonsensically apparent view that the body and brain may discipline each other actually runs contrary to how many people foundationally view the human being today. Scientific research affirms that thinking positive or negative thoughts physiologically affects the body. Contorting the body, as in Yoga, alternatively affects the thinking process. Concentrated meditation improves the meditator’s sense of focus, mental clarity, and impulse control.

The old view of the human mind, that it is a passive receptacle of perceptions or sensations, that it is a theatre with things flying by on the stage, that it is emanating from the brain and somehow magically apart from it; these are the abject views of the human being. This is not to say that thoughts are necessarily reducible to matter, as the tendency often is today. Nor is it to say that matter is thus reducible to thought, as ancient Hinduism contends. For now, what we can say is that the mind is not of a different process than the body, and the body is not a different process than the mind.

So what are the implications of this in the realm of body language?

We may speculate on a few implications of this thinking in non-verbal communication. It would provide the proper conception of the mind and body to explain why the incongruence of verbal and non-verbal messages do not provide a strong, clear, confident, and effective communication. If someone does this, their body and their mind are in conflict, of course a clear message becomes difficult to attain. Based on studies of smiling improving one’s mood and of slowing one’s breathing to calm stress, we may extrapolate that manipulating your body language may affect you overall. Meaning, if you consciously attempt to train yourself to have an open and confident body language consistently, you will be more inclined to feel more open and confident overall.

Here’s an explication: we unconsciously smile at good news, and so if we’re in a bad mood and consciously smile, we may improve our mood. We unconsciously keep our bodies open in comfortable situations, and so if we’re in an uncomfortable situation and consciously attempt to open up the body, we may improve how we feel. That is, we may become more comfortable.

Attempt to seek out how we have the old conception of the human being (stemming from Descartes’) stuck in our thinking. Most of us do, including this author! By correcting this conception, and allowing in a new one, we may find new ways to view the human being as a whole. These new ways allow for progress in how we understand ourselves; thus giving us tools to improve ourselves. One such tool, as we have seen, is properly correlating verbal and non-verbal communication.



5 Tips on How to Effectively Lie

May 2, 2012

Author: Andy Khazanovsky

Lying is an unfortunate consequence of life. By itself, it means simply to not tell the truth. Though not telling the truth seems to be a poor decision, lying may save someone’s life in the end (E.g. A terrorist asking where the president is hiding). Lying, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. Thus, one must learn how to detect lies for obvious reasons, but also one must learn how to effectively lie as well.

Techniques of detecting lies provide a clue as to how one may learn how to effectively lie. While many liars are detected by the content of what they’re saying, for example through contradicting themselves, one may feel like someone is lying based on something else. Usually that something else is their body language – the unconscious actions we do when we lie to someone else. By learning the body language and respective gestures which give away a liar, one may avoid these body language cues when attempting to lie. This would align the liar’s verbal message and non-verbal message; thereby effectively reinforcing their message overall – true or not.

The easiest and most effective way to learn what others really say, think and feel!

Here are five quick tips as to what gives away a liar, thus what one must avoid to effectively lie:

  • Closed hands: When you close your hands, you are being defensive by trying to protect your palms. Do not clasp nor rub your hands together, as this communicates that you have something to defend, protect, or hide!
  • Locking ankles: Locking ankles, wrapping your legs around one another, and keeping your feet off the ground, all indicate defensiveness and a non-confident answer. While these gestures by themselves do not give away a liar, when they are considered in context, they are considered to signal a lie.
  • Creating a barrier: Using a briefcase, a cup of water, or even a stack of papers to create a barrier between yourself and another person are gestures communicating defense. They close the body off and communicate that you’re not open, confident, and trustworthy. Alternatively, keeping an open body allows the other person to build trust in you.
  • Poor eye contact: Maintain eye contact! It is very common for people to look away when they’re lying or are in an uncomfortable situation. Looking upwards usually indicates that the person is coming up with what they are saying. Meaning, they’re not telling the truth – otherwise they wouldn’t have to come up with anything.
  • Covering your mouth: Suddenly covering your mouth is a sign of stress. We instinctively cover our mouths when we’re unsure of what we’re saying, being defensive about what others are saying, or when we know we’re lying. All of these are indicators of a liar.

By avoiding these common gestures associated with lying, we may learn to effectively lie. Keep in mind that these gestures, in and of themselves, do not indicate a liar. However, imagine a person who is rubbing their hands nervously, sitting back in a chair with locked ankles, maintaining very poor eye contact, and when you ask them a question, they lean further back and cover their mouth with their hand when they reply. This does not communicate an honest person. Sitting upright and slightly leaning forward with open hands resting on the table (fingers pointing out), shows a confident body and hand position. Paired with a good lie, this person becomes an effective liar.

The Hidden Power of the Smile

May 1, 2012

Smiling directly influences how others respond to you. The human brain prefers happy faces; it recognizes them faster than faces with negative expressions. In fact, research shows that if you smile at someone, it activates the “reward center” in that person’s brain.

It is also a natural response for the other person to smile back at you.


It seems that smiling is one of the most basic universal biological factors within the human condition which has a measurable effect on our overall well-being. It is probably one we acquired through evolution in order to get along with others.


Julia Roberts –  The Oscar winner is still one of the highest-paid actresses in the biz. All she has to do is keep her larger-than-life “accessory” with her and she is surely to stay on top of her game.

A natural smile (which involves muscles around the eyes, unlike a fake smile) produces physiological feedback that makes the person smiling feel happier. Someone watching another person smile will involuntarily mirror the smile.

Even on the phone, when you “hear” someone smiling back at you, it makes you feel happier. Thus a feedback loop kicks in as the body produces neurochemicals correlated with happy feelings.


 For example, research published in the journal Political Psychology used automated face-recognition technology to create a “smile index” for politic candidates’ faces. The study found that a greater “smile index” correlated to a greater vote share for Australian candidates in the 2000 and 2004 elections, smiling increased vote share by 5.2 percentage points in Australia.

Body Language Cards - The easiest and most effective way to learn what others really say, think and feel!

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