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8 Signs You Aren’t Falling Behind But Just Going The Right Way

8 Signs You Aren’t Falling Behind But Just Going The Right Way

Sometimes, we find ourselves stopping and reflecting on whether we are getting ahead and getting what we really want in life, or if we are just letting life pass us by. You may find yourself stuck in situations by choice. But being stuck does not necessarily mean that we are falling behind. Compare yourself to the waves that are quietly contemplating, waiting to throw the next big one at the right time. Consider yourself going in the right direction if you see yourself in these situations:

1. You’re still busy exploring and haven’t settled yet.

It could be that you haven’t made up your mind that you will stay at your current job within the next 10 years. Or that you have not gotten married yet because you are not sure if your partner is the right one. Or stay in the same city until you are 50. The main lesson is, it is good to keep exploring for better things rather than settling. Some 40-year-olds that I know are still unsure about what to do next in their lives so they plan to stay in status quo for a little while. And that is ok. Rash decisions most often yield rash results. So it is better to stop and explore what else is out there.

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2. Your savings haven’t gone up much because you want to see the world.

They say that traveling is the only thing that makes us richer. And I couldn’t think of anything truer than that. Traveling though, is a financial decision. If you decided to travel while your legs are still strong enough to let you, do not blame yourself if your bank account is not inflating that fast. The trade off to that is a more culturally rich you. There is no better teacher than traveling.

3. You are ok with failing because you know you’ll gain more after.

Never be afraid of risks. If you fall down, get back up. And when you are back up, let yourself be a better person from the experience. The lessons that we learn from failing are necessary to make us successful. And if we let ourselves get scared of failing, we will never leave our comfort zone. Nobody that has ever succeeded has stayed in their comfort zones. If they did, we won’t have airplanes or computers or cures for certain diseases because all of those were created by people who allowed themselves to fail.

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    4. You daydream a lot and are constantly inspired.

    They say that an empty can is the one that makes the most noise. If you find yourself switching to quiet mode and your mind starts wandering and daydreaming, know that there is nothing wrong with that. It is a sign that you have a creative imagination and a successful future starts with a creative mind. You can go as far as your mind can go.

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    5. You don’t work just for money, but focus on the meaning of work.

    You might find yourself stuck in a job that does not pay as well as another profession. But it is what drives you and it nourishes your soul. Money is a necessity, but the happiness that it gives is temporary. It’s like buying a car that you have been excited about. And after a year of using it daily, it just becomes an ordinary thing to you; no meaning. So find work that is meaningful.

    6. You haven’t met someone that really suits you, but refuse to compromise.

    It is better to be alone than to be with the wrong person. The sadness that you are feeling because you are alone will be nothing compared to the pain that you will go through if you are with the wrong person. If you are not settling because you have not met the right person yet, it just means that you put value on yourself. And in order to find the right person, you need to be in love with yourself first. The right person will not make you a complete person; it will take two complete persons to be in a complete relationship.

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    7. You chase your passions even if success is not guaranteed.

    I have read articles about people in their death beds wishing that they went after their passions. I cannot say this enough. You have to do what makes you happy whether or not success is guaranteed. Because there are no guarantees in life. And also, success does not only come from outside; it also comes from inside of you. Success can be that feeling of being fulfilled when you are doing what you are passionate about.

    8. You let yourself take breaks to recharge because you work better afterward.

    Burn-out is an epidemic. Let us not bury ourselves in work, or in planning the next big thing. We all need to take a break because mentally, physically, and emotionally, we will all perform better after we stop and rest. Better to be strong and steady than be fast and weak.

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    Sarah Bonander

    Writer, Human Resources Professional

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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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