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Published on September 30, 2020

4 Simple Ways to Make a Difference And Make This World Better

4 Simple Ways to Make a Difference And Make This World Better

Once upon a time, you woke up and decided to become the hero of your own tale. You decided that what you have to say matters. You decided what you had to give could make a difference. And you decided that you could make this world better. There would be a happy ending.

That hero is in all of us.

Sometimes, you may forget how much you have to offer. Even the smallest good deed has a ripple effect. When you give, you develop a better perspective, peace of mind, and appreciation for life. You stop focusing on all your problems when you go out and help others. You take on tasks that others may not feel like doing. You show kindness in places that need it. You don’t overlook anyone or anything around you. There is always something you can do to help.

The key is to start where you are. And once you start helping others, you’ll want to do it again and again. There’s a study in 2012 where researchers found that upon reflecting ways one had helped another, it motivated them to want to help more people.[1] So, helping others is a little addicting. Enjoy it.

The good news is that it’s good for your health and reduces stress increasing life-expectancy, making you feel good and happier each day. If you’re a better you, there’s no telling what the world will benefit from you. And sometimes, that good comes right back to you.

1. Volunteer

Volunteering is not just a way to help others and make a difference—it serves your soul. You just feel better when you do good for others. You have a chance to uplift your community and walk into a situation shedding light on solutions. You give hope, and when that happens, you also feel better about yourself. The world can be a little better because you walked through it.

Find a cause. Find an organization. Find an interest. Take it upon yourself to seek out opportunities to make a difference. You can both volunteer and advocate for issues touched upon by an opportunity. You can become invested. The tools are right on your fingertips—a quick search online will lead you to many things. Doing good was never this easy!

Here are just a “few” places you can search for volunteer opportunities:

For a continued search of volunteer opportunities, try searching on Idealist.

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There are many other sites to search for opportunities as well. Check out your local organizations and find some that need you.

You could also start your organization, drive, or event. There are always people looking for involvement, so you can find help. Shop around a little, get some ideas that will motivate you. This is your time!

2. Find Your Calling

Your calling is what captivates you. Whether it’s through helping others or achieving something, your goals give you a better life. And your life touches the world making it better, too.

Try these 15 Ways to Find Your Calling in Life for a Meaningful Life.

There’s nothing that you can’t do and achieve. But many people get stuck somewhere in life. Along the way, wrong values, priorities, or even people can disrupt your life’s calling. It’s easy to get distracted and lose your way.

Your calling is made up of living your principals and taking action on your plans. It’s something everyone has, but not everyone rises to the occasion. You may have a goal in mind that you set to achieve.

So, how do you find your calling? Well, what’s something that you can’t live without doing? It’s like eating, breathing air—just natural. It’s what you most want, even if others tell you not to go for it.

When you find your calling, you start contributing. And that contribution affects everything. A fire that started in you can fan flames in those around you. You get others inspired. You wake up each morning ready to go, and you know you can do it because, after all, you’re the hero of your tale.

A calling can be a job, a kindness, a status, an achievement, an investment, a gift, an action, a perspective—anything that gives you satisfaction.

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You then find that you’re not alone. You step out of your comfort zone, out of your little bubble to help others. You find out that you do matter. What you do for the world matters, even if it’s little. It all matters.

Don’t feel defeated because you didn’t invent the next great thing or don’t have absolute celebrity status or influence. If you did a kind deed today as part of your calling, you are moving mountains. And that shifts the world.

3. Altruism

Your best self is when you let go of the self—you are selfless.

According to Psychology Today, selflessness takes sacrifice.[2] There may be a cost for being kind, but altruism is what changes the world. Altruism is an attitude. It an assertion of value and goals to make the world and the people around you better. It’s assisting others when they most need it.

It’s fulfilling in and of itself because you are not looking for a reward. The reward is knowing that how you treat people will leave a smile on their faces and make a difference. But sometimes, you do not get to see the benefits of what you start.

“A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” —Greek Proverb

You may not know where to start. Just start by planting a seed. A seed of kindness that can grow over time, whether you are there to see it or not. A giant tree will come of it—a great experience, a great connection, a great solution.

A small seed of kindness becomes a tree that offers everyone shade. You may not get the shade in your lifetime, but you will be happy knowing you were the planter. That’s the beauty of altruism.

You don’t need to wait to start being altruistic. You just have to be kind. Kindness, love, compassion, support, understanding—these are the tools that an altruistic person uses, and they all come from within.

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You don’t need formal training to become altruistic. You just have to put someone or something greater than yourself before your interests. You have to move towards things that light up the world when there is so much dark.

The next time you pass that stranger, say hello. When you ask someone how they’re doing, add ”How are you, REALLY?” When you stand in line and pay for someone’s groceries or just a coffee, say “Just pay it forward” with a wink.

When you choose to be kind to one person, you turn their day around, and they WILL pay it forward. That’s how powerful altruism is—it gets everyone wanting to spread the good feeling that you gave them. Kindness is contagious—in a good way!

4. Share Your Story

Your part to play in this world isn’t insignificant. You take up space—you are allowed to have a say. Your story may be the only thing that helps someone else through similar struggles. Your pain may be someone’s point of reference for how to survive. Your passions may be the only thing that saves a life.

Yes, save a life. Sharing your story may save a life. That’s because, at the end of the day, people need hope. Hope is the reason behind great acts of kindness and good in this world. Hope can be given through the hardships you have faced.

What have you gone through that impacted you in any way? What lessons did you learn? How did you get through it? What was healing like? What have you accomplished since then?

Look to your story; you have everything you need to change the world. Your story itself will make the world a better place. You can share it however you want—a blog, an article, a video, an interview, a book, a speech, or just something you share between you and another person.

However you want to do it is up to you. It will take vulnerability and courage, but it is worthwhile because on the other side, you’ll find people who can relate and you need to know your reasons for holding on. Your resilience can be a motivator. In that way, you become a mentor.

Lives will change just because they look up to you. That’s an incredible power! And it’s yours to use anytime. Just open up—don’t worry about being perfect. Welcome flaws. Welcome failures. They are all tools for learning and growing.

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If you want to make a difference, start by seeing the value in your own story. Start by using what you’ve been through to change the world. When you do, you’ll find others following your footsteps. You may be the leader.

What’s more motivating in using our negative experiences for a positive impact? If you can’t change the past, use it. Don’t ruminate on it. Don’t live in it. Just let it be part of how you help others. This will help you heal.

As you teach others the lessons of your life, you reteach yourself. This is how to save yourself and others and serve as a reminder that we are all in this together. So, what’s holding you back?

Final Thoughts

In a way, just by BEING you, you are already doing good. As Wayne Dyer says, “you’re a human being, not a human doing.”

Just having been here, that is felt by someone. That is held onto by someone. You are making some sort of impact with your choices, your character.

Why not focus that energy into a cause you love, finding a calling, being altruistic, or sharing your story? You CAN make a difference. The world is waiting for you to shine. Let go and live through love.

More on How You Can Make a Difference

Featured photo credit: KAL VISUALS via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] GoodNet: 7 Scientific Facts About the Benefit of Doing Good
[2] Psychology Today: Altruism

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Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

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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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