An Artist's Quest

Power Pose + Smile = Good Medicine

A wistful sparrow in Japanese Ukiyo-e style

A wistful sparrow in Japanese Ukiyo-e style

Bear with me now but I’m going to take you on a mental bird walk and try and explain what I’ve been thinking about lately and what that has to do with this art.  Ok, deep breath, here we go…during my recent winter vacation I watched a TED talk that my sister recommended.  The talk , by social psychologist Amy Cuddy, shares a research study she conducted on how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain . Her research on body language shows that we can change our own body chemistry  by changing body positions for 2 minutes. So before a meeting, a test, a tense conversation we can become more confident and comfortable just by striking the power pose for 2 minutes.  Of course ever since then I’ve been striking the power pose often, much to the amusement of my family.

Hawk in Japanese Ukiyo-e Style

Hawk in Japanese Ukiyo-e Style

This got me thinking of another study I had read awhile back: “When we smile, fake or real, the contractions of the facial muscles slightly distorts the shape of the thin facial bones.  This slight distortion in their shape leads to an increase in blood flow into the frontal lobes of the brain and increases in the release of dopamine (Iwase et al., 2002, Neuroimage 17:758).  As a result, walking around all day with a smile on your face will bias your mood to be happier. Not only will you be happier but your smile might spontaneously induce the release of dopamine in someone else’s brain—now that truly demonstrates the power of a smile.”

Ok you’re saying – what does this have to do with the slightly weird, somewhat amusing birds as Japanese Ukiyo-e art?  The best answer is it made me smile. Smile to make it, smile to share it- so there- I just wanted to give you and me a bit of dopamine for the day. But what’s the link to the power pose? I hear you pondering…following is my interpretation of the power pose bird style.  This pose didn’t seem to fit with my demur Japanese bird images so I went for an all American chicken doing the power pose.

Wonder Chicken in power pose

Wonder Chicken in power pose

When I showed this one to my husband he had a look of alarm…. he felt maybe I’d gone too far with the cross dressing rooster Wonder Chicken – offended, I said that’s not a rooster it’s a chicken with a full comb – he said maybe if it’s hips were wider it would read more chicken than rooster which just made us booth laugh, you be the judge too weird or just weird enough? So take just two minutes today to power pose – slap a smile on and you’ve got some good medicine for what ails you…pass it on!

I highly recommend watching Amy Cuddy’s Ted talk here is the link.  On the power of smiling check out this Pinterest page full of smiles it promises to induce a little dopamine release.


10 responses

  1. Vivka

    Oh, how I love your posts! And really enjoy the images, too!

    January 17, 2014 at 10:42 am

  2. Laura O'Connor

    thanks for doing the research on the neurobiology of what my father told me years ago. In my work, I do notice the difference between people who smile by default and those who don’t. Of course,its good to allow oneself to reflect real underlying feelings , too. (Can’t see us returning to the
    “stiff upper lip”). But a smile and a belly laugh a day keeps the . . . well, you know the rest! Love the “super chicken”.

    January 17, 2014 at 10:53 am

  3. Mary Thorpe

    Oh, so sweet!

    January 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm

  4. Val

    I learned to power pose by being a dancer. There’s that moment of terror in the wings when you question why you ever agreed to do this, then you just suck it up, stand tall, and make an entrance. I used that technique every time I walked into my high school classroom to teach. But I never dressed as super wonder chicken.

    January 17, 2014 at 3:04 pm

  5. Kitty

    someone is having fun with their art and mind – love the Wonder Chicken, Great Art, Great Posting.

    January 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm

  6. I love your power posing wonder woman chicken… No woman wants broader hips! The japanese robed birds are lovely!

    January 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm

  7. Pamela

    I have struck the pose, I shall not leave it,

    January 17, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    • Such great comments and sharing this post has prompted… Thanks to you all for a bit of smile medicine now all I need to do is my power pose and my day is good to go!

      January 18, 2014 at 8:09 am

  8. yes, smile and even laugh… love it. did you create the ” fe-roost” on your I pad?

    January 18, 2014 at 8:37 am

    • Yes,
      All the pieces in this post were created on the iPad.

      January 18, 2014 at 11:48 am

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