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10 Chances Unhappy People Refuse To Take

10 Chances Unhappy People Refuse To Take

Happiness isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. And to succeed in this journey, you have to be brave enough to take some chances. Are you sick and tired of feeling down-in-the-dumps? If so, watch out for these 10 chances unhappy people refuse to take.

Take a chance on making a difference.

“I’m just one person! What could I possibly do to make a difference?” This defeatist question will halt your progress in its tracks. Yes, you are just one person, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of leaving a mark. You know who else was “just one person?” Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Alexander the Great to name a few. The history books are full of individuals who dared to take a chance. Be bold in your aspirations and unwavering in your efforts.

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Take a chance on helping people.

“I have so many problems. How could I help another person when I don’t have all of my ducks in a row?” I know it’s tempting to look at your problems and assume you’re in no position to help another person, but it’s just not the case. There is something “wrong” with everyone (and anyone who says otherwise is a pathological liar, or possibly a robot). Can I tell you a dirty secret? The articles I write here at LifeHack (like the one you’re reading right now)? I tend to write things that I need to hear myself. Does this make me a fraud? I don’t think so. I like to think it makes me human because it allows me to put my thoughts into words that you, the reader, will be able to relate with. In other words, never assume we self-help writers have it figured out; most of us are figuring this stuff out the hard way. And if I can help people despite my flaws, so can you. You’re not perfect, you never will be, and you know what? That’s totally okay because you are perfectly human just like the rest of us.

Take a chance on an imperfect idea.

How many projects have you given up on because it wasn’t “good enough?” Listen: there is no such thing as “good enough.” You invented this silly little non-existent benchmark in your head, so get over it and deal with the fact that nothing can be (or ever will be) perfect. Does this mean quality doesn’t matter? Of course not. The easiest thing to market is a useful product or service that helps people solve a specific problem. The more useful it is, the easier it will be to sell. Simple equation, right? But forget about this whole “perfection” thing because it’s nothing but a pipe-dream. Make it as good as you can (and make it better as time goes on).

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Take a chance on being yourself.

Why are you trying so hard to fit in? Conformity isn’t something to strive for–it is something to avoid. Forget any pre-conceived notions you have of how you should think, feel, or behave. Phonies can be detected from miles away, so the only person you are kidding is yourself. As Mark Twain said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

Take a chance on patience.

You know what’s really discouraging? Spending all of your time pursuing a huge goal that requires so much time and effort that victory appears to be light-years away. Yes, aim high in your aspirations, but make sure you pave the road to Victory with as many tiny victories as you can. Forget about losing 50 lbs (just lose the first 5). Instead of aiming to write a book, just write the first chapter. You don’t have to impress that cute waitress with witty banter yet: just tell her hi! Obsessing with the end destination will leave you sick-and-tired-of-every-thing before you can say “burn-out.” Knocking out a bunch of small victories on your way to success will offer you the motivation to keep moving forward.

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“He that can have patience can have what he will.” – Benjamin Franklin

Take a chance on changing your surroundings.

Who says you have to live in the same place for the rest of your life? I know moving is one of the most terrible, inconvenient things ever. But would you rather live through temporary inconvenience or a life-time of regret? Take an honest look at your community calendar, take a drive through your downtown area, consider the people you’re connected to, and ask yourself, “Is there anything here for me?” If you have no good answer to that question, it’s time to move on. Just because it’s scary doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

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Take a chance on meeting new people.

If you could make new friends in elementary school, you can make new friends now. Look for clubs, groups, or meet-ups with people just like you. A life without friendship and socialization can make for lonely days (as someone who became a hermit for about half-a-year when he decided to pursue self-employment, I feel qualified to say this). You have nothing to be afraid of. People have a desire for human companionship just like you do, so I have no doubt there are people in this world who would be thrilled to have a healthy dose of you in their life.

Take a chance on forgiving the past.

As much as you might wish you could change the past, it’s just not going to happen. Regret is one of the nastier emotions you’ll ever experience, so please understand, I know this isn’t as simple as “just getting over it.” But whatever you did, no matter how wrong it might have been, cannot be undone. Stressing out over something you can’t fix is the opposite of productive. Just because you messed up doesn’t make you stupid, worthless, or a “bad person.” It just makes you human. Everyone messes up sometimes and life’s greatest successes are not exempt from this rule. The difference between long-lasting success and dismal failure is simple-in-theory but complex-in-practice: how do you react to a mistake? Do you learn from it, move on, and grow? Or do you beat yourself up, learn nothing, and repeat history over and over again? Forget the past and live in the present, because that’s where progress happens.

Take a chance on trusting your intuition.

Did you ever have a teacher tell you something like, “Never change your answers on a multiple-choice test!” They told you that because our first instinct tends to be right. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If a person or place gives you a bad feeling, be weary. Just because intuition doesn’t always make sense doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust it.

Take a second chance as much as necessary.

Never become discouraged, even when things aren’t going your way. You can have as many chances as you need to find fulfillment and success in your life. Isn’t it wonderful that every new day is like a clean slate, yet another opportunity to better yourself? I think so! Tell me what you think in the comments. Also, if you have any words that might be useful for unhappy people reading this, please share them below.

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at 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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