Forget the hair gel, fist pumping may be part of the reason the Jersey Shore cast members are so happy. Admittedly, they save their fist pumping for the dance floor, but maybe we should consider doing fist pumping exercises at the office.
While you may think that clenching your fists and gritting your teeth is a sign that you are about to lose control; in fact, those classic muscle-tensing moves may actually be helping you keep your cool. Really. According to new research, our angry fists of frustration may actually help us find our inner Zen.
After clenching their muscles, participants in a recent study were more easily able to accept physical pain (in this case drinking a bad-tasting tonic water) for long-term gain (supposedly the tonic water had health benefits). Not a surprising example if you think back to your childhood. You had to drink the yucky cough medicine when you were sick, and like most kids you probably made the “Ewww-gross” face that involves tensing facial muscles before the medicinal syrup even touched your tongue. That icky face you made probably helped the medicine go down.
The study gets more fascinating. What if we told you that clenching your fists when hearing news of a major national disaster might make you more charitable? That’s right, the participants that clenched their fists in anger when hearing about a tragedy, in turn gave more money to the cause.
How is it possible that physically acting “angry” makes us, well, better people? The researchers suspect that when we are faced with a major problem we may naturally clench our fists. This physical manifestation of our inner emotions may ground us and allow us to pull from our inner strength. We literally “grit” our teeth through the bad times for a reason, because by clenching our muscles, we’re physically summoning our willpower.
Who knew? Fist pumping may actually make us better people.