Sunday, June 26, 2016

Paint Like Superman

I’m constantly surprised by the number of people who paint sitting down.

I’ve tried it. Sore feet, knees and hips notwithstanding, sitting seems to restrain creativity. It’s hard to feel expansive sitting down. Unless you’ve had a rod inserted in your spine, it doesn’t take long to begin to slide and slump, getting lower and lower as the day goes on. It’s hard to paint grandeur with your chin on your knees.
Me, in full expansion mode.
During workshops, when a student comes to a point where they’re not comfortable with progress, we usually have a little talk. “Stand up straight”, I say. “Pull your shoulders back. You’re the boss, you own this. You own your ideas. They’re good. Take a deep breath and make it yours!” My cheerful exhortation echoes across the room.  Inevitably said student grins awkwardly, peeks over their shoulder to see who’s watching, and adopts a pose similar to the man in blue tights.

And weird as it may sound, things go better after that.

Now, after reading “Presence, Bringing your Boldest Self toyour Biggest Challenges”, by Amy Cuddy , I am gobsmacked. Amy Cuddy, TED Talk darling, Harvard Business School professor and now bestselling author, shares actual scientific studies that show that – drum roll -  I’m right. Mark your calendars please.

“Presence” is a book about how nonverbal behavior, the way we stand or sit, influences us and others. Cuddy’s studies show without a doubt that our bodies, the way we carry ourselves  literally, allows us to be the best version of ourselves.

A few quotes:
 “…holding an upright position rather than a slumped one can yield many benefits.”

“Expansive postures also reduce anxiety and help us deal with stress.”

“Expanding your body frees you to approach, act, and persist.”

In other words, stand up in your workspace. Pull your shoulders back. Lift that chin, put on your blue cape and paint like you know what you’re doing. Just like I said.

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