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Will a sexy muse and booze make you a brilliant writer? This life lesson will tell

Will a sexy muse and booze make you a brilliant writer? This life lesson will tell

Leaving a promising career at Google filled with free food, free massages, and a solid paycheck in favor for a life as a famous writer was a no-brainer.

I would wake up at 11 am with a beautiful woman by my side, kiss her goodbye, and put a t-shirt on. I would later type remarkable words on a vintage typewriter while nursing a glass of whiskey.

Journalists across the globe would pursue me for notable insights on the creative process, life and of course, women. The philosophical stories I would convey would help them craft their award-winning articles, with a magnetism so strong their bosses would throw them an extra Christmas bonus.

I wouldn’t have a schedule to respect, no duties to obey and no boss to please, only my mind at ease.

While sipping a whiskey sour in a Brooklyn bar with my black notebook, a blonde lady sitting two arms’ length away jumped off her barstool and sauntered over to my filthy pages and me.

“What are you writing?” she asked.

”Short story,” I said in a panic and closed the notebook.

”Are you a writer or what?”

I was silent. My inner self was running around my brain in circles to figure out an answer. I didn’t know — was I?

”Actually, yeah. I am,” I answered

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”Wow, that’s amazing. What do you write about?”

”Life, love, misery. The usual suspects.”

”I love people who write. Can I read some?” she said, staring at me.

”Nah, you’ll have to wait until it’s done and get it in a bookstore. I’ll invite you to the release party and sign it.”

”Really? I would love that. I’ll write you my number.”

She glanced at my notebook. She loved the writer story; she wanted to be part of it. Was it the whiskey? Was it the t-shirt? My words? Couldn’t be, I hadn’t written anything and she hadn’t read anything.

I opened the last page of my notebook and turned it towards her before I handed her my silver pen that I had bought on sale at Office Depot the other day.

She wrote her name and number down, ending it with a smiley face.

”Call me someday,” she said, and left.

I called her the same night. We met at a wine bar in West Village. She told me she was from New Jersey and worked in real estate. Business was slow, yet the other day she had sold a 3-bedroom condo to a couple with three kids.

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She did commercial modeling on the side, mainly local, such as Dave’s Auto shop in Hoboken. Her dream was to walk the red carpet at the Oscars.

We downed three glasses of wine, went to my studio, had sex and fell asleep. The next morning I made her coffee and walked her out. We never saw each other again.

Had I found a golden hen? A hen that would lay golden eggs as long as it was served whiskey and carried a notebook accompanied by a $4.99 pen. Was it just a coincidence? Luck?

Turned out it wasn’t.

Going from one bar to another with my notebook drinking whiskey would prove to be a formula attracting encouraging and thought-provoking women. I had discovered the concept of a muse, and it was real.

They were all unique. How they talked, walked and sobbed. Each one of them carried a story. Like picking up cookie crumbs, I chose tiny pieces of each one and stored them in my creativity tank. The ones that were not yet eaten by the world, the ones hiding deep inside their hearts.

Those were the interesting ones, untouched and unusual, terrifying yet attractive.

One by one they would help me complete the page puzzle I was trying to assemble into a novel with the use of words on a page.

I loved it. The life as a writer turned out just as I had imagined. Muses, notebooks, and drinks. Admiration and freedom. Only the calls from journalists were missing, but they’ll come to reason later on, I thought.

I started to write, assembling words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into the pages. Putting the crumbs together, merging stories and characters.

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The truth was the building block. Real people, real stories, real pain.

I knew a lot of truths, yet it didn’t feel enough. I wanted more; I need more, I said, to finish the puzzle. To make it picture perfect. To put the chaos of crumbs together into one tasty cake everyone wants a mouthful of.

It didn’t happen, the pages remained in anarchy.

Drink, sleep, and procrastinate. A muse, another one, one more. Writer and thinker I said, dreamer and drinker, I was. I lived the imaginary life of a writer so much that I forgot to actually write. The ideas never survived the hangovers.

After months of drinking and searching for the perfect muse, I recognized it wasn’t the textbook recipe for a New York Times bestseller.

Something was missing. The pressure was there, more than 500 copies had been sold six months prior to publication date, a book had to be delivered. I was held responsible for it to happen.

The publisher talked about deadlines, I thought about headlines. It was easy to lean back on the steroid fueled visions.

The anxiety was constantly haunting me; how would I find the missing piece and fulfill my promise to readers, muses and most importantly myself. Did I live in a dream? Was I escaping reality?

The fear of exposing myself was persistently knocking on the door to my wellbeing. The public would get the key to my mind, and it was too late to change the lock.

It was all there, except the novel.

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I could always blame it on the notorious writer’s block and find a new women, new inspiration. It didn’t work. The chapters crumbled. The journalists didn’t call.

During my regular Thursday 3 p.m. whiskey at The Standard Hotel, I was talking to a woman from Paris. She visited New York for an art exhibition.

“Wake up and write. You can’t fix a blank page,” she said.

“But I am,” I defended myself.

“Ah non, no, no. Don’t hallucinate. Write. Just write,” she commanded. “La discipline,“ she said and left me alone with my drink.

Discipline was the missing piece. As simple as that.

The experiences had fueled the creativity tank, but the lack of discipline left a leaking hole. Muses and whiskey weren’t enough, they wouldn’t make me a brilliant writer, and they wouldn’t make anyone a brilliant writer.

Not alone.

Discipline is the key ingredient that glues the puzzle together. It drags the heavy package referred to as life.

Alone, creativity and discipline are solid, but when they marry, magic happens. Magic referred to as brilliance.

My perfect muse only needed to say one simple word to create magic: Write.

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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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