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The Best Mentality For Life That Will Make You Much Happier And More Successful

The Best Mentality For Life That Will Make You Much Happier And More Successful

Your Attitude Makes All The Difference

We are all born with our own gifts and talents, but what separates an average person from a truly exceptional individual? Quite simply, the way you approach life and how much effort you put into self-improvement can propel you from a mediocre existence to a life that is so much more fulfilling. Your mentality shapes the messages you send yourself. It dictates your level of self-esteem, how much progress you can expect to make in life and even the way others treat you. Changing your mentality isn’t easy but the rewards are substantial.

Self-improvement Is Key

If you want to develop your skills and reach your goals, you need to make self-improvement a big part of your life. As the saying goes, the bridge between dreams and goals is action. For every key area in your life, make a list of your main objectives and ways in which you would like to grow. For example, you may wish to become a more competent artist and learn how to draw people, animals, landscapes or any other subjects that catch your interest. Signing up for an art class, investing in some basic materials and scheduling time every week to draw for a few hours would be useful steps to take if your goal is to become good at drawing.

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Self-improvement tends to lay the groundwork for a virtuous or upward cycle. When you take your ambitions and goals seriously, this helps you maintain a positive and proactive outlook. The better your mentality, the more time and energy you will devote to self-improvement and the stronger your skill set will become. This in turn will feed your confidence and inspire you to pursue further success. Your life satisfaction will soar along with your competence.

It’s tempting to compare your progress to that of others, and to rate your own contributions against theirs. However, this is a mistake that will set you back. It’s great to be inspired by other peoples’ work and to learn from their successes, but constantly making comparisons may lower your self-esteem, especially if you are early on in your journey and haven’t yet achieved your desired level of mastery.

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Tiny Steps Are Sometimes Best

Even if you only move towards your goal in tiny increments, you should congratulate yourself for making progress. Many people go through life wishing and hoping for change without taking steps to make it happen. It’s the small changes that add up to groundbreaking results. For example, you may wish to become a marathon runner but cannot remember the last time you walked for longer than 20 minutes. In this case, by walking just 5-10 extra minutes per day most days of the week you would be making huge progress. If you have become highly introverted recently and your goal is to become more social, meeting up with friends one evening per fortnight would be a fantastic initial milestone.

If you have a competitive streak, focus on beating the old version of yourself rather than outperforming other people. You have no idea as to their personal problems and insecurities, and they are on their own journey. Moreover, even if they appear to give much more to the world than you do, remember that this does not invalidate your own progress. Everyone has plenty to give, and everyone needs to move at their own speed.

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How To Maintain A Positive Mindset

Remaining positive and dedicated to personal growth whilst resisting the urge to compare oneself to others is a difficult task. Some people find that journaling about their experiences can help them retain their focus. Try making regular lists of your achievements, no matter how small, together with lists of everything that is positive in your life. This can help you remain grateful for what you have and committed to your personal development.

Try and use positive language when you talk to other people. If you talk about yourself and your progress in a derogatory manner, this signals to yourself and everyone else that your goals aren’t to be taken seriously and that you are only expecting to make limited progress. Speak as though you believe in yourself and others are likely to follow suit.

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More by this author

Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness 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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