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How To Keep Your Mind Uncontaminated In A Negative World

How To Keep Your Mind Uncontaminated In A Negative World

It’s easy to take one look at the news (or the comments section on a YouTube video) and instantly lose hope for humanity.

We’re constantly hearing stories about terrorist attacks, murderers, and plain old dishonest individuals who seem hell-bent on tearing down any sort of progress being made across the world.

It’s difficult to know how to stay positive when it seems like we have so much to be feel down about.

It’s difficult – but it’s not impossible.

It’s up to you to improve your outlook on life, and on the world in general. In doing so, you’ll put yourself in a better position to make the world a better place.

Accept the Inevitable

You’re probably familiar with the Serenity Prayer, but how often do you actually live by it?

It takes energy to not get frustrated by the negative we see in the world. It can leave you exhausted if you pay too much attention to it.

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But, as the verses in the link above say, there are some things you can’t change. So why waste time and energy worrying about them?

There will always be evil, stubbornness, and stupidity in the world. Believing these things can be completely eradicated is foolish.

Instead of losing precious moments of your life worrying about the things that you have no power over, accept that you’re powerless – and move on.

You have much better things to do with your time.

Shift Your Focus

If you’ve ever uttered the phrase “There’s so much evil in this world,” you’re right.

But you’d also be right if you said “There’s so much good in this world.”

Both exist. It’s just much harder to see the good because the media, along with your Facebook feed, is constantly discussing the evil. Tragic headlines sell. You wouldn’t click a link that said “Absolutely nothing bad happened today!”, would you? (Although, now that I think about it, such a headline would be so incredible that it would be hard to resist…)

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Do yourself a favor: Every time you hear about some tragic event unfolding, go to the Good News Network and spend at least ten minutes reading the stories posted there.

The truth is, there are many more good things happening around us than bad. You just need to shift your focus and actively look for them.

Engage In Wholesome Hobbies

When you’re constantly hearing about all the awful things going on in the world, you might be tempted to grab a drink or reach to a similar vice to calm your nerves.

But deep down you know this will only make you feel better temporarily. Substance abuse is a cyclical problem: You feel like crap, so you take another drink, then you wake up, feel like crap, and grab another one. Meanwhile, the problems that got you to drink in the first place never actually went away.

Be productive with your time. Occupy your mind and body with hobbies that will improve your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Go for a bike ride. Learn a new song on guitar. Read a new book. Just like when using drugs or alcohol, you’ll take your mind off of what’s bothering you about the world – but you’ll be doing so in a much healthier way.

Surround Yourself With Positive People

Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

While his sentiment had to do with success and ability, it also pertains to emotional outlook as well.

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If you’ve surrounded yourself with people who are constantly complaining about every little thing, it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing the same.

On the other hand, if you surround yourself with people who are always looking on the bright side of things, you’d be the odd man out if you maintained a negative outlook on life.

Surround yourself with people who will build you up and keep you focused on doing the best you can every day of your life.

Practice Gratefulness

Along with changing your focus on worldly events, do so in your personal life, as well.

Everyone has something to complain about.

But, no matter how bad you think you have it, you have lots to be thankful for, too.

Heck, you’re probably reading this on a WiFi-enabled laptop while you sip coffee from a Starbucks cup. Do you know how many people will never get to experience that level of comfort?

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Once you’ve changed your focus to see all the good things in this world, go one step further: Be thankful for these things. Don’t take them for granted.

You’ll start to realize just how much there is in your life that you have to be grateful for.

Once You Understand How To Stay Positive, Be The Change

Okay, I know I said there are some things you need to accept because they’re much too great of a problem for one person to take on. But there are ways you can do your part to make the world a better place.

Be more giving of yourself. Forgive others for minor transgressions. Don’t take life so seriously.

One small act of kindness can start a chain reaction that, in some small way, will change the world for the better.

More by this author

Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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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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