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What I love and have learnt before hitting 30

What I love and have learnt before hitting 30

They say you don’t start finding yourself until 30. Well I’m not quite there yet but I’m half a year away. If someone had told me this 5 years ago I would’ve told you that I learnt to love myself and knew who I was.

Maybe they were right though, age is simply just a number and we all know people that seem much older than they are and older people that we would think would know better. In saying this, I do feel like things somehow make more sense than they did ten, five or even a year ago. Throughout my personal journey, here is what I have loved and learnt before hitting the ripe age of 30.

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The realisation that every heartbreak endured made me who I am now

As much as some of the events in the past were things I would rather not live through again, looking back, I now see how those events have strengthened me and made me a better person. To be honest, it sucks that we have to go through pain and loss to grow, but at the end of the day, evaluating who we are right now to the person we were before any of those circumstances happened, I have to say I wouldn’t change a thing.

Watching the people around you follow their dreams

It makes my heart sing to see the people I care about do things that feed their soul. When someone can jump out of their comfort zone, break from the norm and go after their dreams, it literally brings me to a loss of words. Being around the age of 30, most people are settling down with kids and families if they hadn’t already or chasing after goals they had always dreamed of.

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At this age, most of us have been through some painful break ups so It takes a lot of courage to open up to someone again and be vulnerable. It also takes a lot of determination to chase after a goal when it comes to your passions. It makes me so happy to see my loved ones find someone that truly makes them happy and also to see them take that risk and chase their dreams.

You realise that the best time spent is enjoying the simple things in life

Gone are the party days. Hangovers hit you harder than they used to and your whole weekend is wasted feeling sick or unproductive. Give me a campfire, a good restaurant, an amazing home cooked meal, a few beverages or some amazing company and I am set.

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It is so much better for your pocket, your health and your soul. Gone are the days of hitting the clubs until daylight, hating on yourself for the money you had spent and the headache the next day. If I do find myself out, I almost always regret it the next day and who wants to feel that?

You understand that people come and go from your life and you start to see who really is genuine

I have had so many friends that were always around and the moment a boy stepped into their life or a new career progressed, I am the one getting ghosted. I have also had friends in my life that have been there for me single, taken, broke, successful and through thick and thin.

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I don’t give my heart easily but I can easily determine who is there to fill a void or if you are someone that truly wants to form a bond and genuinely care how I am. They are the people I want to keep in my life. There may not be many but quality is always better than quantity.

You realise that life can be taken away from you any moment

In my eyes, 30 is still quite young, there is still so much more to live. Yet I haven’t even hit 30 and I have lost so many friends and family unexpectedly. Some of them I feel were taken too early. It just makes me realise that life can be gone at any moment. So yes I will say what I think, do what I want and make the most of the time I have.

I have learnt that the little things are what matters. I spend most of my downtime chasing waterfalls, going on picnics, lying on the beach, hiking, exploring, learning more about others and just spending time with genuine people. I always try to let the people in my life know just how much they mean to me. Maybe because I haven’t done in the past and never got the chance to tell them and now I feel I have to let everyone know just how much I appreciate them. I don’t know but it can’t be a bad thing right?

Life is a journey. It is never about the destination. We sometimes forget that and forget to appreciate what we have now and who we have now. Age is just a number. Life is a constant learning curve. I must say as messed up as it can be, it is also the most beautiful blessing.

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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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