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6 Counter-intuitive Methods to Make Your Life Better that No One Talks About

6 Counter-intuitive Methods to Make Your Life Better that No One Talks About

Most of the worthwhile things in life don’t come easy. One of the things I dislike the most is “the power of positive thinking.” So many people are sold on this idea that their desired life outcome will eventually come true without any extra effort, as long as they constantly visualize it.

However, the opposite is true. A better life never comes without a price. There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to improve your life in slight degrees. However, here are 6 unconventional (but realistic) ways you can do to make your life better.

1. Set Goals and Forget About It

What? Yes, I mean it. To make your life better, the first thing you need to do is to have a clear and defined goal. While setting your goals, make sure they are aligned with your values and priorities. If you believe in job security, and your goal is to build a multi-million dollar startup, you’re going to have a hard time.

What nobody talks about are things we should all do after that. Most people give you suggestions on how to set bigger goals, how to use the SMART goal setting techniques, but no one talks about the executions.

Visualizing your goals every day doesn’t help. Instead, you should just forget about it and start executing your goals. Break your goals down into a realistic plan, start taking action, and focus on making progress.

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2. Start Budgeting

Many have said money is not the source of happiness. I totally agree. Making more money should not be the sole purpose of our lives. However, the way we deal with money is emotional. No one can escape from it because, in today’s world, money is heavily tied to life and death in many cases.

Everyone wants to make more money, and many people talk about it; some even teach others how to do it. But very few people talk about managing it because it’s not a sexy topic. It never gets people excited.

Yet, personal finance is about managing money, not just about making more money. How you budget and spend your income is equally, if not more, important than how you earn them and how much you made.

People who are good at budgeting know how to manage risks rationally. Only with that can you finally wave goodbye to the roller-coaster lifestyle.

3. Opt for Simplicity

Simplicity isn’t easy. It’s all about reducing your life down to the fundamentals. It is about wanting less, doing less, and having less, but living more.

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Many of us are caught up in the world where more is always better. We want more time, more friends, more information, but at the end of the day, we have less time because we work more, we have fewer friends because we’re trying to please everyone, and we contain less wisdom because we only scratch the surface of every piece of information we receive.

To live with simplicity, we need to learn more about ourselves, and then focus only on the fundamentals. With that, you can shift your life from scarcity to abundance in no time.

4. Practice Appreciation

Some see everything as happening to them, and others see everything as happening for them. People who appreciate both the good and bad things (and people) around them tend to be happier.

We don’t always have the ability to control our circumstances, but we always have control on how we see and perceive them. It’s time to stop whining, stop complaining, and stop comparing. Instead, appreciate every moment in life because every one of them gives you an opportunity to grow.

How do you practice appreciation immediately? Simply change your “have to” to “get to.”

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  • I have to take care of my parents →  I get to take care of my parents
  • I have to go to work → I get to go to work
  • I have to eat white bread for breakfast → I get to eat white bread for breakfast.

“Have to” makes you feel everything as an obligation; on the other hand, “get to” makes you feel like everything is a privilege.

5. Master Your Habits

We are what we repeatedly do. – Aristotle

On average, humans process 60,000 thoughts in a day. That’s insane. In fact, almost 85% of them are habitual. This basically means 85% of our day to day decisions, behavior, and actions are our habits.

To truly transform your life for the better, you need to start breaking bad habits and building good habits. Easier said than done, but mastering your habits is a long process; no one pulls off the feat in a day or two.

Start observing your routines, identifying destructive habits, then, replacing them with a good, new routines.

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6. Connect with Real People

The advancement of technology has revolutionized how we communicate. I truly appreciate the fact that I can actually connect to great teachers and mentors with very little cost today. Plus, I also get to share my words with many others around the world.

However, nothing beats real connections. With more and more people working using their computer and the Internet, most communication happens online. While work is usually 70% of one’s life, it’s time to shut down your computer, disconnect yourself from the Internet, and go out the meet with real people when you’re not working.

My words can spark a light in your mind, but the true change happens with the support of close people around you. To make your life better, connect and build relationships with others offline.

Proximity is power. – Tony Robbins

Start Before You Feel Ready

To change your life for the better is really not that complicated. It’s simple, but it’s never easy. To make a change in your life, all you have to do is to take the first step: start before you’re ready, then, take consistent small actions, and opt for tiny, incremental gains.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Dean Yeong

Self-improvement writer and performance 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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