In a TED Talk in June 2012, Dr. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist from Harvard Business School, discusses the bidirectional relationship between how we see ourselves and our nonverbal language, such as external behavior and body language:
Dr. Cuddy’s findings are actually part of a rapidly growing body of evidence that, across a range of important human experiences, feeling often follows action. We tend to assume it’s our personality — the sum total of our attitudes, motivations and emotions — that prompts us to either ascend a stage and address a potential audience of millions or, alternatively, stay at home with a bag of potato chips, yelling at the TV during Sunday Night Football. But the lesson of Dr. Cuddy’s work, and that of many others, is that very often, it’s the other way around: first we act; then we feel. And some of the earliest studies that arrived at this conclusion concerned not feelings of confidence, but those of attraction and love.
Behavior is not only an expression of our internal being, but it also influences our internal being. And, while Dr. Curry’s lecture was in the context of power and leadership, it can also extend to a discussion of why Sikhs live the way we do.
For example, when a person bows or sits on the floor in a Gurdwara because these are expected acts of worship as expressions of humility and equality, in turn these acts also inform our individual faith. Carrying this further, when Sikhs adopt the articles of faith such as uncut hair, the comb, the sword, the steel bracelet and underwear — the uniform of the saint-soldier — as an external expression, we are also influenced internally. Maintaining the uniform helps us to be what that uniform expresses.
As was the message of the Sikhs’ Gurus, in this sense it is important to discern the meaning of what and why we do, and when we do those things, it facilitates our spiritual progression.