Standing Tall and Looking Good

Education Health and Wholeness Personal Development Relationships What Your Father Should Have Taught You

I cannot tell you how many times my wife and I heard from our parents stand up straight, don’t slouch, and so on. This was a better idea than we ever realized.

Welcome Freedom Troopers back to another installment in What Your Father Should Have Taught You.

This is good advice when you’re young because bad posture affects both your muscular and bone development. When you are older and begin to be interested in finding a mate it becomes important because bad posture simply isn’t attractive, it makes you look weak and unhealthy.

Scientific research into beauty seems to indicate that beauty is not so much a cultural determination as we used to think as it is an indicator of genetic and reproductive health. We register good genes in the symmetry of the face and body as well as a subconscious recognition of geometric ratios and balance that we understand as “beauty.”

We register a lack of reproductive health when we find someone unattractive – unattractive = poor mating material. The dangers to health register subconsciously in attractiveness since at some level we seem to know that slouching compresses our internal organs, weakens our musculature and bone structure, and leads to all manner of health problems when aging. Thus we register bad posture as a weakness and unattractive. So good posture makes us more appealing to the opposite sex, which is always a good thing.

When we fail to find a mate we end the reproductive and genetic diversity of our entire family line that extends back thousands of years. Over that time generations of our family line have struggled against death and oblivion and we are the product of the survivors. The protectors of our family’s and nation’s genetic diversity. At the extreme, it is the genetic diversity of humanity that ensures our species’ survival.

There is a poem that every school child used to know. It is an old poem but it effectively communicates the repercussions that cascade outward according to modern systems theory:

It amazes me how many of the old sayings, stories, nursery rhymes, and other traditions communicate complex theories simply and memorably. Of course, modern society is “too smart” for these old sayings so our schools cast them aside. Now we’re taught to be stupid and educated in ignorance.

I remember my ex-wife after we were married going with my dad and me to feed the animals that he cared for. She was feeding the Japanese deer (the does,) when the buck came into the clearing. He stood there, proud and tall with his rack of antlers and surveyed his females, ensured they were alright, and then scanned the area to make sure the area was safe as he walked into the clearing. You can see similar behavior in the male/female relationships of nearly every mammal and avian on the planet. She noted the similarity of males across species when she said, “Oh look, he walks just like Dan does. Like he owns the place.”

My father and mother would encourage me to stand up and sit up straight but it was my Drill Sergeant that taught me the hack I taught my children to ensure they grew straight and tall. What we called, “Standing Tall and Lookin’ Good.” If you take your cap and place two fingers together resting them on your nose and then lower the bill of the cap to rest upon your top finger you have a brim that forces you to keep your head and eyes up. If you fail to keep your head up the bill then blocks your sight and you can no longer see where you are going.

Once you hold your head up your neck and spine naturally fall into a straight alignment and your shoulders automatically go back to where they are supposed to be. To the exact position where your parents always told you they should be most of your life – or at least they did if they cared about your health and the way you present yourself to others.

Once you have a good posture and have your head up you increase your awareness of everything around you. As I taught my sons and wife, when you enter a room or get out of the car, pause and scan the area so you know what situation you are in. Alertness increases your chances of safety and survival and helps you avoid foreseeable situations.

This has the added advantage of helping to prevent you from becoming a victim. You see criminals tend to look for easy targets, people who are not paying attention to their surroundings, have their heads buried in their electronic devices, or otherwise look like they lack awareness or confidence. When your head is up, you are alert, your shoulders are back and you stand straight and proud you appear more confident and aware. This communicates to potential criminals and mates that you are not an easy target and they will move on to easier pickings. As Batman said, criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot. They want an easy time of it – they don’t want to have to work hard or they would have a real job.

I remember when we were looking for a new house I looked at the police website to check out the crime in the new area. I remember looking and saying that I don’t think we want to live there. My middle son says what does the area we live in now look like. We clicked on it and it was worse than the new area we were looking at. Yet no one had ever bothered us or our house. Of course, I had a reputation for being aware and people in the neighborhood came to me for help. Also, we had two German Shepherds. The houses around us and across the street had been burglarized but no one bothered us.

Think about it. If you are going to rob a house are you going to choose the house with an armed law enforcement officer that has over 150 pounds of canine teeth and muscle defending the house or will you pick one without a dog or armed home owner? It is a no-brainer.

Now I don’t know that my posture and bearing have kept me from ever being attacked but I do know that people have commented on my bearing and no one messes with me even now that I am older.

When I had my transplant surgery my doctor warned me about the scar tissue. He said that I had substantial scar tissue on my chest and that they had to cut through all of my core muscles and then sewed them back together. He said as this heals it will have a tendency to tighten up and draw my back and shoulders forward into a stooped position and I need to fight that tendency to stretch them out. As I began walking again I noted that my head was pulled forward and I was looking down a lot. I could literally feel the scar tissue pulling my shoulders forward. Fortunately, I always take my cavalry Stetson with me and I had it at the hospital. I returned to my room, put on my hat, ensured it had a two-finger gap, and began walking again.

By using the two-finger hack and exercising I helped hasten my recovery time by months.

The two-finger hack kept my shoulders back and kept the scar tissue from tightening up and making me look like a stooped old man.

A nurse said, “Nice hat, you must really like it.” So I told her it was a cavalry tradition, that I had served in the 8th Cavalry, and about the two-finger hack I learned as a Drill Sergeant. She said, “Oh, I’ll have to remember that. Good posture is important to a good recovery and that seems like an easy fix.”

It is.

Posture is important for your health, the way you present yourself in relationships and the quality of mate you can attract. Of course, there are other factors for all of these but my father taught me to hedge my bets by gathering as many factors into my favor as I can. Posture is one of those factors and it has a ripple effect that affects your health, your mate selection, and even your safety.

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