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I’m Alone But Not Lonely: Making the Most of Being Alone

I’m Alone But Not Lonely: Making the Most of Being Alone

There’s a common misconception in today’s society that being alone is inherently dreadful. The advent of cell phones and the Internet have made it easier than ever to connect with each other, so even when you’re physically by yourself, you never have to truly be alone. But what’s wrong with having some time to yourself? Unfortunately, we’re growing so accustomed to being around or connected to other people that we don’t realize the importance of “me time.” When you actually do get some time alone, it’s imperative that you make the most of it.

1. Understand you’re good enough

Like I said, we’re constantly being fed the idea that we need others around us in order to be happy. That’s simply not true. You’re absolutely good enough all by yourself. You don’t need others around you to tell you you’re living life correctly; just live. Take up a new hobby. Set and accomplish goals. Do what you want to do, not what others make you think you should be doing.

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2. Be an observer

Take the time to observe the world around you. So many of us, when we find ourselves alone in public, tend to take out our phone or iPad to make it look like we’re busy. Why do we need to be busy all the time? Take some time to listen to the birds, or enjoy the laughter of a small child. Experience life, rather than zoning out playing some time-wasting game while you wait for your train to take you somewhere packed with people.

3. Talk and listen to yourself

The only person who really knows you is yourself. Listen to your inner voice. If you feel like you’re just going through the motions, try to find out what it is you really want out of life. When you’re around others you constantly have to put on a facade, and aren’t free to have the deep inner monologues that will lead you to actual happiness. Embrace yourself while you’re alone; it’s the best time you have to do so.

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4. Cherish interactions

We spend so much time around others that we sometimes take it all for granted. When we’re alone, we want other people around; but when we’re out and about, all we want is to be back in bed. It’s important to take the time to really appreciate everyone you meet, from the cashier at the supermarket to the concierge of your apartment complex. Embrace these moments when they arise, and you’ll find they stick with you when you are alone.

5. Don’t waste your alone time

Like I said before, a lot of our time alone is spent waiting for the next big thing to happen. Don’t wait; make it happen. Instead of playing some silly iPhone game, take a book along with you. Instead of watching the same sitcom reruns day after day, start a new hobby. Be a producer, not a consumer. By doing so, you’ll find the next big thing in your life will happen much sooner than if you were to wait for it to come.

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6. Stay busy

This goes along with the last piece of advice. Don’t become stagnant or complacent. When you’re alone, you’re free to do whatever you want. But do you really want to spend that time laying around contributing nothing to society, or to your own well-being? Find a part-time job, or go to the gym. Do something to improve yourself. Try something new that you never imagined yourself doing in a million years. You might end up finding a talent you never knew you had that could change the course of the rest of your life.

7. Make plans

Decide how you want your future to play out. Plan out your day, week, month, and year, and get moving toward the goals you’ve set for yourself. When you’re alone, the only person who can get in your way is yourself. Take care of your immediate, short-term goals first, but make sure that you take steps toward achieving your long-term goals every day until you reach them. Of course, after you’ve accomplished those goals, set the bar even higher. There’s no telling how far you can go if you keep pushing.

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8. Enjoy the quiet

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sitting back and enjoying the silence once in a while. Our busy world is also a demanding one. Between work, family, and friends, it’s incredibly tough to actually get time to ourselves. We need to enjoy these fleeting moments when they arise. Make the most of your alone time by reflecting on your past and looking toward the future. Meditate and recharge, knowing it might be a while until you get some peace and quiet again.

Featured photo credit: Solitude / Premnath Thirumalaisamy via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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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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