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How To Wait For What You Want

How To Wait For What You Want

Classic rocker Tom Petty summed it up when he sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

This lyric no doubt resonates with anyone who’s ever had to sit through a period of delayed gratification. Perhaps waiting for a future event or circumstance makes you feel tense or stressed (even if you’re waiting for something exciting to happen). Maybe you fear that you won’t actually get what you want, or that things won’t be as great as you’re imagining they will be. This state is referred to as anticipatory anxiety, wherein you feel anxiety when you think about an event or situation that’s expected to happen in the future. Or maybe waiting feels unbearable simply because—like a kid who can’t sleep on the night before Christmas—you’re really excited for the thing you’re waiting for to happen.

Whatever the nature of your struggle, the fact remains that waiting can be really (really) hard. But the good news is that there are ways to cope with waiting. Help pass the time with any of these five effective strategies.

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Take up a hobby: Time passes more slowly when you’re doing nothing but waiting.

Call it the modified theory of relativity: Time passes more slowly when you’re doing nothing but waiting. Conversely, one of the best ways to kill time—in both the short and long term—is quite simple: Do something with that time.

Now’s your chance to finally learn how to play the guitar, or skateboard, or sew your own clothes. Whenever you catch yourself bemoaning the wait, throw yourself into this new hobby, and the time will seem like it’s passing more quickly. That’s partly because immersing yourself in a creative pursuit can result in what psychologists refer to as “flow,” a state that promotes deep satisfaction and seemingly speeds up the passage of time.

Bonus: Mastering new skills boosts confidence, so you’ll be empowered to tackle any new challenges that arise when you finally get what you’re waiting for.

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Give meditation a try: Cope with anticipatory anxiety

One of the best ways to cope with anticipatory anxiety is to learn how to be wholly present in, well, the present. Practicing meditation for even just a few minutes each day has been shown to reduce stress, improve concentration, boost immunity, improve self-awareness, and increase feelings of contentment. Learn to sit with the moment and appreciate everything you already have, and it will be much easier to wait for whatever’s coming ‘round the bend.

Catch up on sleep: Prepare for what you are waiting for

Millions of Americans are walking around sleep deprived, and odds are good you’re one of them at least some of the time. The consequences of sleep deprivation include memory and cognitive impairment, stress, compromised performance in all facets of your life (from work to relationships), and decreased overall quality of life. Thus, it’s important to catch up on sleep if you actually want to enjoy the thing you’re waiting for when it finally comes to fruition.

Make a point of practicing good sleep hygiene by keeping electronics out of the bedroom, decluttering your sleep area, keeping the room cool and dark, and learning how to combat snoring. While you’re at it, be sure to practice other self-care techniques, like exercising, staying hydrated, consuming adequate nutrients, and cultivating healthy relationships. Taking good care of yourself—and sleeping better as a result—will help you feel sharper in all aspects of your life, so you’re ready for whatever comes your way.

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Beef up your savings: Prepare yourself for change

If you’re anticipating a big life change in the near future, then the odds are good that finances are going to be involved in some way. Prepare for this change by making it a priority to contribute as much as possible to your savings account each month. Increasing your savings will give you peace of mind, reduce stress, and help you look forward to the future with excitement, because you’ll have the means to address challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. It may even be helpful to see if you can pick up some overtime at work—doing so will both help you pad your bank account and provide a distraction while you wait for time to pass.

Take baby steps toward your goals

The misery of waiting often stems from a feeling of powerlessness—if you need something to happen in order to move forward, then it can feel like you’re just running in place until that thing actually comes to fruition. Help beat this feeling by identifying small ways in which you can move toward your goals even without the big event having happened.

Let’s say you’re waiting to move across the country six months from now. Why not spend this time winnowing down your possessions and packing up items that you rarely use? Or perhaps you could research a list of restaurants and activities that you want to check out in your new locale. Taking small steps will help you feel like you’re contributing to the ultimate goal, which will make the time spent waiting seem more productive.

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No matter what you’re waiting for, practicing any or all of these strategies will help make the process of waiting much more bearable. Heck, you may even find that you’re enjoying yourself in the process.

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Kenny Kline

Entrepreneur

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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

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