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We Travel Not To Escape Life, But For Life Not To Escape Us

We Travel Not To Escape Life, But For Life Not To Escape Us

Sometimes, after many weeks of work, eat, weekend, we start to wonder “what am I doing with my life?” It’s about then that we decide to take a vacation just to get away from it all. Many people seem to believe that traveling is a way to escape life, but that suggests that life is just a series of workdays, sleeping, weekends, and eating. The truth is that this daily grind is where life tends to escape us. Traveling is a great way to break the monotony and bring back our love of life.

A Life Without Travel

Can you imagine what it would be like if we weren’t allowed to take a break and go traveling somewhere? They say time flies when you’re having fun. That’s not exactly true. According to some studies, time actually flies when your brain doesn’t have to devote much energy to the world around it.[1] When we experience the same settings, environment, and challenges every day, our brain perceives time as passing very quickly.

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Alternatively, when we do something different, our brains tend to perceive the experience as lasting a long while. Not only that but we probably also feel the memories of a new event are more vivid and interesting. For example, you might remember your trip to Hawaii quite well and remember the exact sequence of events as it took place during that trip. On the other hand, you would probably have to think pretty hard to differentiate Tuesday from Wednesday, or Monday.

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We Were Not Meant For Monotony

Our ancestors didn’t sit in the same office building every day, drive to work by the same roads in the same car, and go home to the same house every night. Each day was a surprise and a blessing. Sure, each day was also filled with a ridiculous amount danger, and the nomadic life wasn’t a very long one, but each day was interesting! We should be grateful for the safety that modern life offers us, but we shouldn’t forget that we’re also built for a bit of adventure!

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Traveling Increases Our Happiness

Travel gives us new experiences, memories, and even aids our way towards self-discovery.[2] Few people ever change or make memories by staying in the same place doing the same things. Travel introduces us to new challenges, new scenery, and new people. Now when you hear the phrase “travel broadens the mind” you’ll know what it means!

How To Make Time For Travel

Below is a short list of suggestions for saving money and making time for traveling. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to go to a different country or take a long trip. You can go camping in a forest you’ve never been to or visit other states! The important thing is to allow yourself a change of scenery every once in a while.

  1. Keep a Travel Jar. Put your spare change in this jar and encourage yourself and your family to put money in the jar that they might have used on something like eating out or junk food.
  2. Try eating out less. You’ll be surprised how much money you save just by sticking to home cooked meals.
  3. Make a list of places you want to visit. Post it on your wall to remind you that it’s a goal within reach!
  4. Contact far-away friends. Most of us have friends who have moved or who live far away from us. Call them! Ask if you can visit for a week. Most of them will love having visitors.
  5. Put together a travel group. This is great if you don’t have a lot of family and you don’t like going places on your own. Start planning trips with a group of friends.

It’s important to remember that life isn’t all about hard knocks and work. Life should also be about adventure and enjoyment. We should all take some time for ourselves to get out of our comfort zones and travel away from the places we’re used to. We’ll be happier, smarter, more open-minded, and we’ll have memories that can last us a lifetime.

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Reference

[1] Scientific American: Why Does Time Fly?
[2] CNN Travel: Travel Makes us Happy: Here’s Why

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Marina Richter

Freelance Writer

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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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