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The Single Biggest Regret People Have In Their Lives

The Single Biggest Regret People Have In Their Lives

Have you been following your heart, or are you guilty of the thousands of people that will chalk their biggest regret as to not following through on what they’re passionate about? It is something that does not get spoken of enough, but many people end up sticking to the safe route in life as if it is the only path they know how to walk. They then forget what tingles their fiery sense of desire and regret not taking the small sliver of opportunity that was available to them at some point, and instead they find themselves stuck or complacent and missing out in a repentant state of mind. This idea of following the heart is difficult, but imagine the life you could be living if you gave in to the calling of your heart instead of the ‘norm’ life that society has ingrained into our heads.

People often get stuck where they are at. They live rather comfortably and don’t want to give that up. Usually it has to deal with monetary values, because whether we like to believe it or not, to pursue plenty of things there is a price. At the same time, there is the dichotomy that they are making money not doing what they love and instead just ‘getting by’. The most important step into not falling into the life of regret is finding the medium into which you can step outside that comfort level and let the unpredictable route of passion takes its hold over you. Otherwise, we get shackled to what we are not in love with, almost like having to carry around extra weight that pushes your passion and heart deep within yourself that it never sees the light of day.

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At one point I fell victim to not putting what my heart wanted first. I noticed it when someone asked what a day in the life of Sean was, and what I responded with was so stagnant that I snapped out of my zombie like, droning state and dropped that piece of my life off in a ditch and instead charted a map for my heart to follow and soar. I fell victim to the heavy work load of life and it felt monotonous enough that I do not think my happiness or career would be where it is now if I continued that old life. That being said, not following your heart will lead to you questioning what you have been doing for so long. You will wake up feeling like a shadow or ghost of yourself, because you know you can strive more and your soul deserves what you care about. Write that novel. Finish that painting. Find that deep love you have for your creative identity. Otherwise you may spend your time crashing through the same routine without any sense of worth in whatever it is you are doing.

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I have spent the past six weeks of my life traveling the country pursuing what I love most, music. Along my journey I have met many other musicians and people who have come to understand the idea of being free thanks to following their heart. They come in all different forms of individuals as well. Their lives are never boring and they are bleeding their passion into everything they do. This is my real life example of what has happened when I shed my old life and blossomed into one that is more fulfilling. I think a lot of people forget what they are fighting for in this life, and more likely than not forget to realize that it is possible to break from the normality and wed yourself to the idea of what you are passionate about. I clung onto the opportunity that I was handed and ran with it. Since then, I have found a new sense of value and perception of my self that I had been lacking and aching to find.

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I am one of the people that dropped their entire life in order to finally feel a sense of achievement in what I was more passionate about than the same routine of “wake up, go to work, come home, drink and sleep.” Now I have spent the night in various different states and with the idea that I can believe in myself and more importantly, everything I have done to shed the idea of not following my own heart. It has lead me to some magnificent places, gotten in touch with terrific people and stopped the process of regretting what I am doing in my life. My single biggest regret is not following my heart earlier in life, but I am beyond relieved I am doing it now.

Featured photo credit: Colin Czerwinski via colinczerwinski.com

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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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