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6 Eye-Opening Messages You Needed To Know Yesterday

6 Eye-Opening Messages You Needed To Know Yesterday

Alexa Tanney made a great point in her recent article: “In life sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can reach your destiny.” Lanney is commenting on the difficulty of being a twenty-something in this day and age, where it seems like everyone is depressed and in debt. In my short time on this Earth, I’ve been able to stumble into 6 fundamental ideas that guide me in my own path, allowing me to live my dream and actually make a living doing it. Impossible, you say? Actually, I’m very proud to report that it is in fact very do-able – it’s just a matter of following these thought-provoking messages.

1. You Are An Idiot (And That’s Okay)

Aristotle once said, “I only know that I know nothing.” These wise words comprise one of the most important messages that anyone seeking to better themselves needs to understand. If you’re reading this, you’re probably fairly young, in your late teens or twenties. I’m in the same boat. One thing I’ve noticed in myself and my peers is the sense that we know everything. However, the fact of the matter is that a lot of us simply don’t have the life experience to really know what’s best at all times. Of course, we can make reasonable decisions, but we should always be willing to consult others to see what valuable information they might have to share. The sooner you realize that we all are far more stupid than any of us could possibly imagine, the sooner you’ll be able to move on with your life.

The fact of the matter is that we are all limited in our own very human ways – and this is totally fine! We just need to be willing to accept this if we want to move on and have meaningful lives. You can’t be right about everything, or even most things for that matter. Instead, you need to be willing to be humble, hedge your bets, and trust in others so that you can go on to fight another day and help build your future!

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2. Discipline Trumps Motivation

I know a lot of people who look at all the hard work I put in every day towards building my career as a musician, promoter, and writer, and ask: “How do you manage to get all that crazy stuff done? I can never get motivated to do anything!” Those people; of course, have not understood one of the fundamental truths of this world. Discipline is a far greater force than motivation. Do you think that I like writing a couple of reviews a day and spending time learning to produce viral content? Not really. I definitely enjoy my work, but some days I really don’t feel like doing it.

That being said, I make sure to do it anyway because I know that the minute I let myself slip like that is when I will keep making excuses and slip down the path of apathy. I’ll be the first to admit this discipline can be unhealthy at times. When I was 18, I got ridiculously drunk at a show and was vomiting for hours on end. Regardless, I had a show review up within 12 hours of the last band’s performance. I didn’t want to write the article while I was hungover and puking, but I did it anyway. Why? Because I had managed to get myself into the unbreakable habit of producing content like that on a daily basis. No matter what.

3. Living Your Dream Isn’t Always Fun

This kind of builds on something I pointed out in the previous entry, but I feel like it should be elaborated on. Yes, I live my dream. I spend every day in a decent sized apartment, in an extremely fashionable Brooklyn neighborhood, and almost every night I go out and hang with heavy metal bands and party. It’s basically all I’ve wanted to do since I was 14 years old and first saw Almost Famous. That being said, my life isn’t all cocaine and groupies. There are a lot of thankless hours, mean clients, and miscommunications that define my day-to-day life.

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However, I’ve taken one of the core messages from Bob Lugowe (head of Relapse Records) to heart: “Just be glad that you get to be here, man!” The fact of the matter is that if something is truly your dream you probably researched it and had a decent idea of what it would require beforehand. You know what your dream entails and you have to embrace ever aspect of it, even the hard parts. If you got to a point that you are to any degree “living your dream” this probably means that you’ve been able to accomplish some pretty great things. This just so happens to lead us nicely into our next point.

4. Be Grateful For What You Have

One thing I’ve found to be almost unanimously true is that people appreciate grateful people. If you can show an attitude of perpetual contentment with what you have, people will admire you and want to work with you. I think that in this world of struggle people really like it when they find someone who just takes life’s lemons and make lemonade. Living your dream isn’t easy and the path is almost always hard, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be happy to be where you are. Yes, you might be torn down repeatedly, but if you can show that you are grateful for everything, whole new worlds of opportunity can open up.

Part of this is because you tend to become whatever you put out. So, if you exude positive vibes and show yourself to be a person of merit, and demonstrate that you are someone who pushes themselves to new extremes with a smile on their face, you will eventually become that person. That’s one of those weird life hacks that make sites like this one so special. If you keep pushing for something, and doing it in a way that takes other people along with you and helps spread the beauty of whatever you are doing, then people are going to be much more likely to help you out, rather than if you just put your head down and work on your own.

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5. People Take Note Of Your Hard Work

Now, a lot of people might claim this particular point isn’t true; however, in my experience it almost always is. The people who claim it isn’t true are doing one of two things wrong. The first (and most likely) is that they aren’t doing their work with gratitude and the desire to help others. That makes people less likely to want to help them in turn, so of course they will end up hitting a glass wall. The other reason it might not work out is because they haven’t been working at it long enough. A concentrated burst of work over the course of a week is good, but creating a body of work over a few years is even better. In the end, longevity tends to be what gets people moving somewhere. For example, I ran my blog for four years and more than two thousand posts before I ever got hired for a “real job.” However, in some ways I am grateful for that because it led me to appreciate the value of hard work.

This is perhaps the hardest of these messages to put into practice because oftentimes it doesn’t pay off for a very long time. That being said, when it does pay off then you know that you are onto something special. You’ve got to keep going at it and keep proving to the right people that not only do you really want it, but you also want it more than anyone else. I know as well as anyone, you don’t need to go to college to get a good job. That said, you need to want it, and the only way that you can prove that to people is through tangible hard work.

6. Things Tend To Work Themselves Out

There is a popular meme running around the internet these days that says: “At 23, JK Rowling was broke, Tina Fey was working at the YMCA, Oprah just got fired as a news reporter, and Walt Disney was filing for bankruptcy.” The point being; of course, that even mega-stars faced some serious adversity and you will also be able to overcome what you are struggling with. Your parents probably had a similar struggle in their lives and ended up figuring it out too.

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This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to keep working and fighting. You need to have all of these awakenings for them to fulfill their potential. That being said, if you’re suffering from anxiety and the looming sense of your own mortality, realize that most people have these kinds of problems at some point in their lives and most people manage to overcome them. As Alexa Tanney said in her article, “It’s okay to not be okay.” A lot of people around you who seem to have their crap together don’t. So, smile and face a new day. I know it gets better!

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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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