A Relentless Life
Why does the eyeroll of your teenager bother you? Why does the moping of your tween get under your skin? When your young child throws a fit is there something deeper that bothers you other than misbehavior?
“Players don’t realize their body language is like a billboard showing their toughness level.”
—Ron Naclerio, winningest basketball coach in New York City (also known as the White Shadow.)
For me, the body language a child exhibits bothers me because it not only shows what they are thinking, but their emotional state for building a response. I want the student in the best emotional state to make a decision that gives them the best result. Your psychology is influenced by your physiology and vice versa. If they are eyerolling, the body language shows a thought pattern of disrespect and until they change their body pattern (language), they may not be able to change their thought pattern. Body patterns are easy to consciously change. Just getting up and moving is often a prescription for depression. It does not treat the thought patterns but it does immediately influence the chemicals produced by the body. It is often easier to change the body pattern than the thought pattern.
According to the Mayo Clinic website doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week may significantly improve depression or anxiety symptoms. But smaller amounts of physical activity — as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — may make a difference. It takes less time exercising to improve your mood when you do more-vigorous activities, such as running or bicycling. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
This is powerful stuff. Once the chemistry of the body is changed it leads to improvement in mood. I think we can agree anecdotally that there are moods that lead us personally to success.
Body language is biologically wired into us. A study done by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, discovered just how universal body language is in athletes. In this study, Olympic athletes and athletes who have been blind their whole lives were studied. The athletes in both groups demonstrated the same body language for victory/pride, defeat, and embarrassment. The blind athletes have not seen the body language and simply mimic it. This indicates it is hardwired into their bodies.
It’s human nature to stretch out your arms over your head and smile when you win.
It’s human nature to hang your head and drop your shoulders when you are defeated.
It’s human nature to cover your face when you are ashamed.
No matter what you feel, you have to fight human nature with your mind and decide to display confidence, instead of letting your feelings take control. When you control your mood, you can set up the conditions that better lead you to success.
We need to learn to control human nature by learning to control our body language as well as adding exercise to change our emotional state. Studies indicate that when you show confident posture (chest puffed up, head held high, shoulders back), the chemicals in your brain change by increases in testosterone levels and decreases in cortisol levels.
By carrying yourself confidently, you gain a significant performance advantage. Increased testosterone leads to higher confidence, better mood, and increased mental focus. Decreased cortisol means your stress and anxiety levels will go down. These chemical changes put you in a much better position to perform at your best.
So at Relentless Martial Arts in Tulsa, when we teach Martial Arts in class we work on postural changes to help students get to the right mental states. Seated attention uses all of the positions described to get a better performance advantage.
What would you give to help your child to be better able to control their mood and get into a state that leads to an advantage in performance in the classroom, on the playing field and in life?
Here are some action steps can you take as a parent to help your child get this performance advantage:
1. Teach body language.
It’s easy to point out bad body language, but first take the time to teach your child what good body language is, how to carry yourself, and what that looks like. Show them how a confident person stands, how a confident person walks and carries themselves. This works so much better than yelling at your child for slouching.
2. Praise good body language.
Praise what you want repeated. If a child is quick to recover from a mistake, praise them in front of someone. Make it a person they respect and it builds confidence.
3. Exemplify great body language.
Set the standard for what great body language looks like. Lead by example and your children will follow.
Maybe you don’t have the best body language yourself. Maybe you aren’t quite sure how to model it or what to model. We can help. We can try to be the models in class and give your kids the performance advantage they need to get to the next level.
P.S. This article was inspired by/ and parts were taken from a website called Basketball is Psychology. My wife, Lisa, read this and said, “This sounds just like what you talk about all the time.” I read the article and agreed. If you want to read the articles go to https://www.basketballispsychology.com/post/body-language-your-mental-toughness-billboard
I think many of their articles are applicable to parenting and martial arts and all of life. It is not about a round ball sport, it is about being better able to deal with life.
Guro Brandon Bennett
Do you remember that Christmas?
I remember the Christmas that my family drove to my parent’s house in a near whiteout snowstorm, because Grandma and Grandpa Bennett wanted to see the kids.
I don’t remember what I got for Christmas. We often tend to value, in the short term, material gifts over experiences. I don’t know why that is but I can tell you why we should flip the script on that idea.
The following is from an article on Entrepeneur.com
The assumption has been that spending money on material possessions would increase happiness because possessions last longer than an experience. A 20-year study by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, found the opposite is true.
Dr. Gilovich is just one of several researchers who believe in the the Easterlin Paradox. This phenomenon simply states that after our basic needs have been met, money will only increase happiness to a certain point for the following reasons:
1. Happiness over material items quickly fades.
“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Gilovich. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”
Psychologists call this "hedonic adaptation." In other words, the excitement of that new car, iPhone or furniture set will quickly fade into the background as they become a part of our daily lives. Experiences, like traveling, attending an art exhibit or trying a new restaurant become a part of our identity, which brings us greater satisfaction.
“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”
2. Experiences define your purpose and passions.
Your daily activities should be guided and influenced by your purpose and your passions, not material possessions.
Think of it this way. Let’s say that your favorite musician of all-time is Bruce Springsteen. Even though you have all of his albums, and some other items like shirts or posters, do all of those possessions top seeing The Boss in concert? Probably not. In fact, if someone offered you a front-row ticket in exchange for all of your Bruce memorabilia, you would probably take them up on that offer in a heartbeat.
3. Possessions don’t contribute to social relationships.
“We consume experiences directly with other people,” says Gilovich. “And after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another.”
Do you bond more with other people when discussing material possessions or experiences? Think of Bruce again. When you run into a fellow fan, you have a certain bond and connection. You can talk about his music, the concerts you’ve attended and how much his music has positively impacted your life. That seems like a more in-depth and interesting conversation that discussing your cars, gadgets, wardrobe or even your Boss souvenirs, right?
4. Moments are more memorable.
While experiences are designed to be fleeting, they provide high level of arousal and memorability thanks to anticipation. Again, let’s revisit The Boss.
You hear he’s coming to town, so you mark your calendar not only for the date of the show, but also when tickets go on sale. You’re anticipating purchasing tickets and then attending a show after you’ve secured your tickets. Going to this show is an entire experience, not just a singular moment.
5. Experiences introduce you to a whole new world.
Unlike stuff, experiences introduce you to new perspectives, life lessons and the importance of gratitude. Take traveling, for example. If you live in New York City and travel to West Virginia, you may realize the pros and cons of living in the Big Apple. Even though there’s culture, public transportation and plenty to do, that weekend trip south made you appreciate nature, the quiet and the beauty of clear, starry nights.
You may realize and come to understand cultural differences. Even if you don’t agree with these points-of-view, at least you’ve walked away learning how to be more thoughtful, compassionate, humble, or grateful.
I don’t tend to remember or think of my material items when I reflect on my life. I remember….
The first time in the ocean with my son.
Going to Sonic with my daughter and hearing her laugh.
Traveling with my wife.
Being caught in a rainstorm in Florida, doing martial arts in the backyard of one of the greatest martial artists I have ever met.
Your experiences create and define who you are. Your stuff doesn’t.