A pig farm bar mitzvah

By Penelope Trunk via blog.penelopetrunk.com   Article

Beliefs follow action; lessons from a pig farm bar mitzvah

“To be clear, my son did not want a bar mitzvah. He chanted Torah beautifully and then in his speech he explained how he was only doing it for me. He also said, in his speech, that he doesn’t believe in God. Earlier, when he told me he might say that, he had a sort of twinkle in his eye. ‘Is that okay?’ he asked.

I tried to be casual, like he wasn’t bothering me at all: ‘Sure. Lots of bar mitzvah kids say that in their speech. You don’t need to believe in God to be Jewish. Fifty percent of practicing Jews don’t believe in God.’ I didn’t check that number. But the general sentiment seems right.

He said, ‘What do you need to do to be Jewish?’ ‘Nothing. You just are. You decide what you want to do. But while you’re in my house you get a bar mitzvah.’ …

The theory here is that belief follows action. It’s a big tenant of Judaism, but increasingly new research is providing us with scientific evidence of the power of action to change our beliefs.

For example, if you walk with a more upright gait you feel happier. And if you put a pen between your teeth it forces you to smile and then you actually become happier.

The Harvard Business Review reports that our body posture can dramatically influence our ability to succeed in life. American social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains inher exceptional TED talk on body language that when we assume a ‘power posture’ for just two minutes—like hands high in a V position and our chin slightly up—we increase our testosterone (the dominance hormone) and reduce our cortisol (the stress hormone). And, we are more likely to take a risk, succeed in a job interview, or get a promotion.

To me that’s a fake-it-til-you-make-it moment.

Our ability to learn through doing is remarkable. It’s why play is so important in school, and it’s why MIT has an action learning program. First we change our actions, then wechange our beliefs.”


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