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The 11 Most Authentic Things You Will Ever See

The 11 Most Authentic Things You Will Ever See

Like many of you, sometimes we get caught up in the everyday happenings of life. We hustle through the bustle and never take a second to stop and look at what we might be missing, let alone take a look back once in awhile.

Life isn’t just about getting through each day as quickly as we can. It’s about something more. Something we forget about and yet need.

Over the last couple of years, I have found myself not needing to be so involved with life. Instead, I found myself falling in love with life’s little moments and the emotions that come with them. I am connected to those moments forever.

No matter who we are, some things cannot be faked or hidden. They are real and genuine and usually catch us at moments we could not have planned. They remind us what it means to feel something, to relate to it, and to allow it to stain our hearts and souls, which most things never will.

No matter the language we speak or where we grow up in the world, these everyday human moments are universal. They connect us all to one another in ways we couldn’t describe, let alone fabricate.

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The most authentic things are found everywhere.

1. Tears

For most of us, we think tears only come when we are sad. It is normal to shed tears for the loss of a loved one or something beautiful now gone. But tears are also found in moments of pure bliss, too. Like when a soldier returns home to surprise loved ones after a long deployment.

It’s been said that “the eyes are the windows to the soul.” If that’s the case, then tears are the love found in our hearts. Some tears come more silently than others, but no matter how they come, we know they are expressing what our hearts feel.

2. Smiles

I’m not talking about the fake, pretend one that comes when you say, “Good Morning!” to every co-worker just because you feel like you have to. No, I’m talking about the one when people are genuinely happy to see one another. It could have been a day or 10 days, but you know that connection between two people when you see it. Some smiles light up every room — it’s a light that shines through any amount of darkness and we just feel better when we see it.

3. Surprise

Genuine shock is something we see in the faces of people who are victims of playful pranks, wonderful surprises, and utter shock. Whether it is an announcement of expected grandchildren, a small get-together for a 50th birthday party, or just showing up to a friend’s work with their favorite lunch in hand. Nothing can beat doing something for someone else just because you can, and their reaction to feeling your love is absolutely priceless.

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4. Embarrassment

Let’s face it, our body sometimes reacts without us really wanting it to. When our cheeks turn bright red and we feel like everyone is staring at us, we are showing the world our true emotions. Maybe we struck out, giving the other team the win, lost the big contract for our company, or fell while trying to dance for the first time. When people are watching us and we don’t measure up to even our own standards, we are ashamed of our behavior or our lack of measuring up. Being embarrassed is a very human emotion.

5. Change

Whether found in a single sprout popping from the ground in spring, or something more personal found in someone’s journey, we can’t help but notice when something or someone is different. Growth is found in many different ways and can be a long process at times. Attitudes influence ideas which influence actions, and before long we have something other than what we had before. Some changes are more subtle while others are more drastic. Yet, when we see a change in something, we understand the concept of time, as it is needed to take place to allow this process to occur.

6. Beauty

You just can’t hide true beauty. We are in awe when we stand with it, somehow swallowed up in its greatness. Its majestic and timeless grace is found in the simplest of places.

Some days, we have to look hard to find it, but we find beauty in the heart of a woman who refuses to quit no matter the struggles she has endured. We see beauty in the soft petal of the flower ready to bloom and the red veins in the maple leaf, having just fallen from the tree from which it grew.

7. Determination

Watching someone fight through something hard or something that seems impossible inspires us all. The authentic will to never give up isn’t something that comes easy. When the body wants to quit and is refusing to do what you ask of it, pure grit is the only thing pushing you forward. Winning isn’t everything when you see someone refusing to quit. No matter how long it takes, they aren’t done yet.

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8. Joy

You can’t fake joy. It is found in the simplest of things and you know that happiness — that bliss — when you see it. Even if just watching someone open up a gift you know they will love, you are connected to that moment because of the elation felt. The energy is electric and contagious. It is usually followed by elated screams, jumping up and down, and celebration. Seeing joy in others will warm your heart every day.

9. Vulnerability

It can be difficult to let someone see us for everything we are. When we are afraid to let someone get that close to us, and yet wanting to take that chance too, it can tear at us in ways we may not fully comprehend.

When we share our stories and are real with every detail, we begin to understand what it means to allow someone in. Letting others see our faults, our weaknesses, and even the crappy choices we have made in life requires an ownership to the life we’ve lived instead of casting blame on someone else.

10. Courage

Moments in life require great courage, and when we see it, we understand what it took to take the actions we did or to say the words we shared. Found on every battlefield and on every inner city street, when we do the extraordinary and take a stand, we show what it takes to be brave. In hospital rooms where the ill fight diseases, we find courage in the tiniest of bodies. In the worst of domestic situations, we find people who break free of abuse. In the simplest of choices we make every day, we see courage everywhere.

11. Love

We see love in the embrace between friends and family. We see love in the eyes of the bride and groom on their wedding day. We see love in the touch of the tiny finger held by a bigger one. We see love in the holding of hands of lovers, who don’t need to say anything. We find love in the giving to others without condition or requirement. Love is felt and connects us all in ways we sometimes are afraid to admit, but we know it’s there. And we know we need it.

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There are a lot of things in life we can fake. Things we can pretend to be and hide behind. But ask yourself why these 11 things inspire us in the way they do? In this massive world of lies and deception, we crave the truth. Those things full of honesty and virtue that cannot be found in anything made up. We are tired of living in less than a genuine world, yet we forget the true meaning of authentic lives.

We look at life all the time, but when was the last time you really took the time to see life?

Be inspired by the genuine and the real. Authenticity is out there. We just have to see it.

Featured photo credit: Madi Robson via unsplash.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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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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