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10 Most Important Things You Should Do To Simplify Your Life

10 Most Important Things You Should Do To Simplify Your Life

There seems to be a general consensus these days that we live in a world where consumption is at an all time high. More seems to be better and somehow reflects our place in society. Success is measured by more money, a big house full of countless gadgets, cars, phones, and even by how many friends we have.

So what happened? Is the world more happy now than it was when we led more simple lives? Has the introduction of consumerism really increased our mental well-being?

The answer is NO. Everyone knows the benefits of having a good clear out – throwing out unnecessary and unwanted items can not only free up literal space around us but also frees us of much-needed space in our minds. Living a more simplified life can improve how we think, feel and move around in the world. Here are 10 ways to simplify your life while creating space for happiness and well-being.

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1. Abandon Your Negative Thoughts

As humans, we spend a lot of our time caught up in negative thoughts that brings nothing good into our lives. While we should deal with negative emotions and not shy away from them, negative thoughts are much more dangerous as they can grow rapidly and cause unhappiness and do nothing to improve our quality of life. Negative thoughts such as bitterness, resentment, jealousy and hate do absolutely nothing for us except ultimately make us miserable.

We have great control of our thoughts so choose to cut down the amount of negative thoughts and feelings you have. Learn to forgive and choose to think and see the positives in life.

2. Reduce The Amount of Screen Time

We spend so much time either staring at a computer screen or the TV. With binge-watching shows the latest addiction, we can often end up spending hours of our day with square eyes especially if, like most people, we use a computer for work as well. While TV, watching endless YouTube videos or playing computer games can be a nice form of escapism, too much can have a negative impact on your outlook and attitude. You don’t realise the amount of time you’re robbing yourself of that could be spent doing more beneficial and productive activities.

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3. Use Fewer Empty Words

This isn’t to say stop talking! However, note the types of words you utter. Are they positive? Honest? Meaningful? Or are they purely coming out of your mouth in the form of gossip, hate or jealousy? Take note of what you say – we’re not perfect and most of us have a tendency to indulge in words we know we shouldn’t use. Eliminate the empty words that bring no real meaning to what you think or want to say. Quality is always better than quantity.

4. Cut Down On Social Media

Social media is so present in our lives that there’s rarely anyone who doesn’t have a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter profile. But despite there being positive aspects to social media, being constantly bombarded with ‘friend’s’ lives can take its toll on us. Sometimes when life isn’t quite going our way we compare ourselves to others but we often forget that we’re basically looking at people’s highlight reels. We never really get to see the full picture and this can cause us to feel dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Simplify your life by cutting down on social media – not only for your own sanity but to stop the endless checking every five minutes. Getting those notifications may make us feel important but it’s fleeting and empty importance that doesn’t actually add anything to our lives. You can gain a whole lot more time by having a break once in a while.

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5. De-Clutter Your Possessions

The amount of material possessions we own can have a detrimental effect on our lives. They distract you from the people in your lives and allows you to ignore the world around you and even your values. Being surrounded by stuff and having the need for the latest gadgets can often be a sign that we are focusing our happiness in the wrong way. In reality, they take away our energy and attention (and not to mention our money) that could be directed in more beneficial ways. Having less things creates more appreciation for the things we do have and cultivates a happier mindset.

6. Eliminate Your Debt

Money creates so many problems for a lot of us. Our relationship with money defines how we end up in debt, rich or poor and many of us don’t have a healthy relationship with it. If you’re in debt, start to make steps to get yourself out of it. Set up a monthly payment plan no matter how little it is. Any actions towards reducing debt, despite how small, will bring a sense of financial freedom for the next day, month or year.

7. Eat Fewer Unhealthy Foods

It’s really important to be aware of what we put into our bodies. Make a conscious effort to eliminate constant bad foods from your diet. Foods high in refined sugar, salt, trans fats, artificial flavourings, and refined grains can be toxic for us if we eat them on a regular basis. Leading a healthy life can rapidly bring down the amount of illnesses we encounter especially as we enter old age. Cutting down on bad foods will not only help you feel much better and give you more energy but it will also simplify your life in the long run.

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8. Reduce The Number Of Goals You Set Yourself

In the effort to make ourselves better people and improve ourselves we often set goals – which is great – but having too many goals can prevent us from achieving them because our focus is spread too thinly. By only having one or two important goals, your focus can be more concentrated and your success rate higher. Once you’ve accomplished your goal then start the next one – this will stop any stress and give you a sense of order and a greater sense of accomplishment once it’s done because you know you put 100% attention and effort into it.

9. Stop Multitasking and Eliminate The Need To Be Busy

Like setting too many goals, multitasking in everyday life can cause unwanted stress and anxiety. Don’t take on too much and feel that being busy means you’re leading a full life. By being busy and taking on too much, we rob ourselves of our present moment and it’s really important to be aware of our present moment to be happy. Multitasking can also lead to burn-out if we’re running around trying to do too many things at once. Simplify your life by completing one thing at a time and maybe actually sit and relax in the moments in between. This way of doing things will do wonders for your physical and mental well-being.

10. Release Yourself From Time Commitments

We often hold on to the concept of time – time is running out, the hours and days seem to pass far too quickly. We live our lives around time commitments and everything needs to be done by this or that time. Try to let go of the need to complete tasks, activities or goals in a specific time limit. Not only does this free your mind from the pressure but allows you to do things at your own pace – a pace that’ll make you feel more happy.

Remember, findings small ways to simplify your life can make a huge difference to your mindset and outlook on life. Simplification means freeing up more time to appreciate and live in the present moment that will lead to a more free and happy mind.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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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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