I've always been interested in body language. Our minds trust non-verbal communication more than what is communicated with words. The content of what we communicate with language is less important or impactful to our consciousness than the signals we transmit with our body positions. Those signals are usually unconscious and are much better indicators of what one is really thinking/feeling than the words we speak. People can rationalize, intellectualize, evade, etc. etc., but the body does not lie about what is going on within. Often our body will signal how we really feel, in spite of the words we may be articulating. Look at how much we know about what is going on with the man in the above images, just based on what he is doing with his arms and hands.
Years ago I read research that spoke not only of what the signals of non-verbals tell us, but also the effect body language has on the physiology and well-being of the person viewing it. When someone we are actively engaged with smiles, our physiological systems relax. Conversely, if someone crosses their arms and denies us eye contact, we will probably find ourself feeling more tense than before they exhibited those bodily behaviours. There are certain body poses that simply put all who see it at ease.
Religious statues (such as the one below of Jesus Christ) with an open arm stance, convey welcome and acceptance. Apparently, when we view a statue, image, photograph or person with that extended arm position our heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, and we generally enjoy a heightened state of relaxation and well-being.
Whereas the photo below, while demonstrating the joy of the person jumping and extending their arms is less relaxing because the body language is about him and a sense of joy he is feeling, while the Christ stance above is about welcoming and accepting you. Do you see the difference? While we may feel good or enjoy the enthusiasm being expressed by the young man, it does not necessarily produce a physiological state of relaxation in us, the viewer.
Contrast that with the photo below of a woman with arms extending to greet, embrace and welcome someone. See if you can notice any slight physical changes within yourself, as you look at the image of her. (Just looking at the images of this open-arm stance is supposed to produce a state of relaxation - even if the gesture is not meant for us directly.) According to the research I read, and unfortunately cannot find at the moment, her position, which indicates welcome and acceptance, should subtlely produce a feel-good state in anyone who sees the gesture.
Below is a statue I have in my office for the reasons mentionned above. Without saying a word (statues usually don't!) it conveys to anyone who enters that they are accepted. Your conscious mind may not pick it up, but your unconscious will register the cues.
And look at the couple below. What a warm-hearted greeting and the extended, open arms tell the other of the delight they are feeling. I have a friend who always extends her arms when you arrive at her home, and I always feel warm, desired, accepted, relaxed and at home when I see her.
This is a gift we can give our loved ones over the holidays - and, of course, any time of year. So simple. Costs nothing. What a gift - when someone registers unconsciously that they are wanted and welcomed. Of course, we will add whatever words go with the occasion, knowing we have also conveyed our loving acceptance on a profound non-verbal level with our open arms.