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13 Reasons Why The Best Adults Are Those Who Embrace Their Inner Child

13 Reasons Why The Best Adults Are Those Who Embrace Their Inner Child

I love teaching my kids new things. It’s a blast watching them soak up everything they learn. They are like little sponges. Yet, as much as I teach them, at the end of every day I still feel like I’ve learned more from them than they have learned from me.

And here’s why: Kids have life all figured out.

Kids can teach adults how to live our lives better. At some point, years ago, you were likely a child full of wonder, with a passion for learning, and an appreciation of nature. You were probably fun and spontaneous with a great sense of humor.

Then, if you’re like a lot of people, the daily grind of adulthood gradually diminished your inner child. Many adults have lost their love of learning, feel frustration instead of hope, and care so much about what others think that they’re scared to truly come alive and be themselves.

Too many adults have lost their childlike spirit. If you can harness and embrace your inner child, you will likely be a happier, more satisfied adult. Here are 13 reasons why the best adults are those who embrace their inner child:

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1. They are curious

Kids love to learn and are naturally inquisitive. They aren’t afraid to ask questions, and they welcome opportunities to learn about the world. Adults who embrace their inner child have a love for learning. These lifelong learners are continually striving to learn; they seek opportunities to expand their knowledge. They are interested in understanding people and the world. These adults know they don’t have all the answers; they ask questions to gain further insight.

2. They learn something new every day

Every day is a new adventure for a child. From morning until bedtime, there is exploring to do! Adults who embrace their inner child know that growth occurs when they try new things, and agree with the Neale Donald Walsch quote, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” These adults know that even when it’s scary to try new things, it’s necessary. To avoid becoming stagnant, these adults experiment with making big and little changes to their life; even taking a different route to work, trying a new food, or learning how to do a new physical activity helps prevent them from feeling stuck.

3. They make small things enjoyable

Kids get excited to run errands with adults, help adults cook meals, and be part of family traditions. Even when tasks involve work, they find ways to enjoy participating. Adults who have a childlike mind find ways to make small, day-to-day tasks, enjoyable. They know that having a great attitude makes their to-do lists much more fun to accomplish. Rather than facing life’s responsibilities with dread, they are thankful for the ability to participate in daily routines.

4. They persevere

When a baby learns to walk, he falls, over and over and over again. Yet, when he falls, he doesn’t say “Wow, clearly I’m not cut out for this.” He doesn’t get embarrassed by his “failure.” He doesn’t pout about not being “good enough” to walk. He doesn’t question his purpose; he KNOWS he’s meant to walk. When he falls, he gets up, focuses his eyes ahead, and tries again and again, until he succeeds at walking.

Adults who embrace their inner child know how to persevere. They are resilient and view obstacles as a natural part of life, not as devastating tragedies. They embrace a “How can I?” rather than an “I can’t” mentality; if they are struggling with something, they look at it from different angles and brainstorm other solutions.

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5. They stay active

Kids are active. They run, climb, and jump every day. They are excited to be strong and take full advantage of being fit. Many adults become sedentary during their working years, forgetting the amazing things a healthy body can do. Adults who embrace their inner child strive to be physically active. They know the world is their playground and participate in a variety of physical activities. They appreciate when their bodies are healthy and capable.

6. They are more optimistic

Many kids are naturally optimistic. They believe that good things will happen. While some adults become jaded and pessimistic, adults with childlike optimism have the conviction that things will work out, and they have a positive outlook on life.

7. They see the beauty in nature

Children are awed by the wonders of the world. They notice the breathtaking beauty of sunrises and sunsets. They see the beauty of the leaves on the trees, drops of dew in the morning, and the colors of the rainbow. They cherish bugs and butterflies. Rather than viewing winter storms as inconvenient and frustrating, children see the details in the snowflakes and cherish the opportunities to play outside and build snow forts.

Adults who embrace their child never lose their sense of wonder; they are continually awed by the beauty of nature.

8. They are adaptable

The majority of kids deal pretty well with interruptions, schedule changes, and disappointments. As adults, however, we can become set in our ways. Yet living lives of inflexibility, and trying to control all variables, leads to feeling exasperated.

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Adults who embrace their inner child are flexible. They know that unexpected events will occur, and do not get overwhelmed when they do.

9. They don’t care about what other people think about them

Children don’t have any interest in keeping up with the Joneses. They aren’t materialistic. If they are fed and comfortable, and feel safe and loved, they tend to be pretty content. Somewhere along the way, many adults become self-conscious and insecure. Adults who embrace their inner child continue to have a childlike confidence; they focus their lives on what’s important to them and are able to not let their critics bother them.

10. They dream big

Kids have big dreams, and they don’t think their dreams are unrealistic or weird. At some point, adults feel the pressure of societal norms – to live a certain way, in a certain home, work a certain schedule, and do everything to fit in with others. Too afraid to fail or succeed, they do all they can to avoid standing out from the crowd; they live lives of frustration.

You will be a happier adult if you gives yourself the freedom to dream big like a child. Adulthood is much more satisfying when you let your imagination run wild, without limits, and imagine a life of possibilities, not of restrictions.

11. They are kind to others

Little kids may notice when others are different from them, but they don’t inherently see everything as “my way” or “the wrong way.” They don’t hate others due to differences in race, ethnicity, or religion. They don’t judge people for past mistakes. They care only whether or not people are kind.

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Adults who embrace their inner child know there’s a lot of “gray” in the world, and they don’t see everything as “black and white.” They realize that just because someone sees the world differently, doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way to think. They are able to respectfully disagree and avoid making harsh, fear-based judgments. Even when they don’t see eye to eye with others, they treat them with kindness.

12. They aren’t rushed

Children don’t feel stressed about enormous to-do lists. They have a sense of peace and are able to enjoy the present. Kids focus their attention on who they’re with and the current day’s activities; their minds don’t wander to what they “should” be doing. They truly know how to “live in the now” and make the most of every day.

Adults who are children at heart master the ability to enjoy the present, even while working toward goals. Although they are ambitious, they have peace about today and they are able to relax and enjoy being fully engaged and present in the moment.

13. They have more fun

Kids tell random, hilarious jokes. They belly laugh every day. They get the giggles about ridiculous stuff. They really know how to let loose. People with childlike personalities know how to have fun. They enjoy a good laugh, and have a great sense of humor.

Learn to embrace your inner child and you will be a much more satisfied adult.

Living a life full of wonder, appreciation for the small things, humor, kindness, resilience, and big dreams is exactly what your inner child would want you to do.

Featured photo credit: free_flight/Bob Mical via flickr.com

More by this author

Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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