When I was a teenager, I was a terrible slouch. I had horrible posture. I hunched.

I need to take a moment here to say something that may seem obvious to some of you. To others, it will seem like balderdash. Your thoughts on it will largely be based on your current circumstances, but I need to assure you that what I am about to say is perhaps one of the truest things I will ever write here.

Your posture matters.

It matters immensely. Standing up straight, putting your shoulders further back than your ears and your chin up, using your core muscles to shift your body mass upward, pointing your toes outward and widening your stance a bit – all of these things add about 25%, instantly, to your presence.

You will be more attractive. You will be taken more seriously. You will avoid fights. You will be more observant. You will be more prepared to use your body as it was intended, when needed. You will notice more things. You will be more alert and more aware. Your breathing will improve.

When I was a teenager, and I didn’t know this, my father used to sneak up behind me (which was easy, because I was not alert nor aware and he was crafty), get right behind me, and shove his knuckles between my shoulder blades while yelling out “Stand up straight, boy! Head up, shoulders back!” He did that with such consistency that soon he didn’t need to; if I even felt my shoulders start to sag or my chin to approach my chest that voice would just ring out in my head and I’d snap into position.

My father once left a bar late at night in a bad area, and saw a few guys right outside that didn’t look especially wholesome. My father looked them in the eye and walked past them; nothing else. The next day he was informed by a friend that left that same bar only a few moments later that he had been robbed by those same guys. Obviously, the thieves didn’t stick around for an interview, but it’s worth noting that they chose not to try to rob my father.

You can’t always draw iron-clad conclusions from incidents like that. But they were a part of a lifelong pattern. My father filled a room, and he was not to be trifled with. But if he wanted to seem like a frail old man, it was easy to do.

All he had to do was hunch.

Your posture is one of the greatest returns on effort you can make, as a habit. It requires nothing more than your attention. Almost no physical work is required, and zero money, and mere seconds. But for such a small investment, you can change your life.

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