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Science Explains Why You Should Prioritze Experiences Over Stuff

Science Explains Why You Should Prioritze Experiences Over Stuff

When you become an adult, there is a lashing with society boundaries overflowing in boiling elements of logic, strategy, and responsibility that drown our soaring dreams and ambitions. Our outlook into the massive window of the world shuts down. Blinded. We are bogged down with mortgages and bills. The new house and the new car that crowned us with applause from the consumerism society defined sectors of success. If anyone steered away from the rigid routines of predefined success, they were deemed to be shunned away, or boxed as ‘failure’ outcasts.

The twentieth century was a period where all were in the rising in the consumer revolution. Happiness, status, identity, and meaning were sourced from material products.

Psychologists find a linkage between materialism and life dissatisfaction in general.

Intense study reflection in the 1990’s by a team of psychologists and sociologists indicated a link between materialism and life tumbles in the form of narcissism, social anxiety and life dissatisfaction in general[1]. Buddhism accentuated the philosophy with the notion that materialism becomes the impediment to reaching true happiness.

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Research studies by UCLA psychologists Darby Saxbe and Rena Repetti indicates that stress levels increase with accumulation of material goods, and affects good health ultimately[2].

As soon as material padlocks in the disguise of money enter wallets, we crave for purchases. Every new purchase ignites a sparkle in your being. A few days pass by and…..? That spark disappears, there is no trace of it. Where does happiness walk away to?

True happiness comes from our memories — our experiences.

Psychologist Tom Gilovich studied the subject of happiness for decades and has concluded that experiences are more likely than material goods to lead to happiness[3].

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When we buy something new, it excites us; with time it becomes an everyday usual, and then we start searching for something new to unload our wallets. The cycle is damaging.

Thomas Gilovich from Cornell University Psychology department research indicated that happiness levels are equal when buying something or a traveling escapade, but memories of traveling resonate within us as we relish in the memories. Buying a new gadget or a new car will just become an everyday ordinary.

An object will eventually become old or expired. Memories, however, stay engraved and bring us joy each time we remember the experience.

Experiential Era has dawned on us.

The  21st-century experience revolution ignites the transformation sparks. It is layered in flexible schedules with independence to move freely in contrast to stability and prosperity.

Before chaining yourself down into hubs of materialistic flaws, think, and expand. Imagine the impossible. Live it and make it a reality! Prosperity comes from a wealth of experiences — learn, discover and explore.

Why own when you can rent it? It is like a car with a driver. By taking a mortgage on a house, it’s like renting the same place for forty years when there are available options to rent a place at any destination of your choice. You never know how long you will stay somewhere because job changes, and life changes.

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In our personal reactions as well, we are instantly impressed with someone who reached the Kilimanjaro summit or passed an intense challenge, rather than a fancy handbag or new watch. Offload the shackles of materialism and get ready to experience, experiment and explore!

Reference

[1] Happiness: Materialism vs. Experientialism, Science How Stuff Works
[2] No Place Like Home, Darby E. Saxbe and Rena Repetti
[3] Want Happiness? Buy Experiences, Not Things, Says a Cornell Psychologist, Prof. Thomas Gilovich

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Nena Tenacity

Nena is passionate about writing. She shares her everyday health and lifestyle 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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