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10 Habits of Really Happy Couples

10 Habits of Really Happy Couples

It seems like a happy relationship should come naturally when you’re with the right person, but that’s not true. Relationships require work. Happy couples have to maintain their relationships every day with love and care, but it’s not as daunting of a task as it may seem. There’s no real “secret” to having a happy relationship, but there are things you can do to make it all come more easily. Try to integrate these habits into your daily life and see how much happier your relationship can be.

1. Go to bed at the same time.

I used to think it was silly to want to go to bed at the same time as my partner, but it does wonders for your relationship! If one of us stays up later than the other, our whole evening feels off. There’s something cozy about sliding under the covers together, talking about what happened during the day or what’s on the list for tomorrow. My fiancé works the night shift, and without realizing it, my schedule also changed until I was a night owl, doing my freelance work during the late hours while he was at his job. When he came home early in the morning, I’d go to bed with him just to get that connection you can only get from sleeping and waking up together.

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2. Cultivate common interests.

It’s important to keep your own hobbies when you’re part of a couple, of course, because you want to stay true to yourself and not change your personality. But you and your partner can cultivate common interests without changing who either of you are, and it will make your relationship stronger as a result. I love reading and writing, which are typically solitary hobbies, but my fiancé doesn’t hesitate to grab a book and sit next to me on the couch, or he’ll write a story too, and we can give each other feedback. He loves painting, and I can hardly draw a stick figure, but when he asks me to help him with a painting, I love to try and do my best with bright streaks of color. As a result, we’ve both found that it doesn’t matter what you do together (or in the case of my painting attempts, how well you do it), just that you’re doing enjoyable things together.

3. Walk hand in hand.

My hatred of hand-holding started in elementary school, when you had to hold hands with a buddy so you wouldn’t get lost on a field trip. Since then, I’ve never held hands with anyone and not gotten immediately sweaty palms. It’s one of the worst feelings! With my partner, though, I love holding hands. It makes me feel so happy and connected to him just to hold hands as we walk through the neighborhood, or even around the grocery store. Even if we don’t hold hands, we keep pace and walk side by side. I find that more often than not, my hand either finds his, or I slide my arm around his waist. There’s something really nice about walking perfectly in step with your partner.

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4. Make trust and forgiveness your default mode.

It’s so easy to fight about stupid nothings and hold a grudge, but that’s not the way to be happy in a relationship. You have to forgive your partner after a fight, even if it’s something major. You might feel like they’ve betrayed your trust, but if you don’t give them another chance, then your relationship can never feel natural again. There will always be a rift because you don’t trust your partner, and feel like any time your back is turned, they’ll be doing something hurtful. On the other side, your partner won’t feel loved in the relationship because they’ll have never gotten your full forgiveness. Let your heart love easier by truly forgiving and honestly trusting your partner.

5. Focus on what your partner does right, not wrong.

No one likes a nit-pick! Don’t chastise your partner every time you think they do something wrong. There are nice ways to inform someone if they hurt your feelings, or to correct them if they do something in a bad way. But instead of yelling at your partner for breaking a plate, thank them for washing the dishes for you—hey, soap makes things slippery! Your partner will appreciate that you’re seeing the positive things they’re bringing to the relationship, and being more positive and complimentary will make you feel better than being negative all the time.

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6. Hug each other when you see each other after work.

This one is easy—who doesn’t want to melt into a comforting hug after a hard day? And if you had a good day, share your excitement with a hug. You can’t beat ’em. And once you start hugging, you’ll feel so much happier that you’ll find it easier to make time to cuddle with your partner instead of getting stressed by the things you need to get done around the house.

7. Say “I love you” and “Have a good day” every morning.

Another easy tip! Saying sweet words to each other is never a waste of breath. My fiancé and I say “I love you” any time we part—whether it’s on the phone, when he leaves for work, when I run an errand. It makes you feel much happier, and is always a good note to end on when you go about your days.

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8. Say “Good night” every night, regardless of how you feel.

Same with “Have a good day,” saying “Good night” when you and your partner go to bed puts a nice, loving haze on the end of the day. My fiancé and I have a nightly routine we say before falling asleep. I won’t reveal it here because it’s special to us, but it includes “Good night,” “I love you,” and other nice phrases that make you feel good and inspire sweet dreams!

9. Do a “weather” check during the day.

A “weather” check is where you call your partner during the day to see how they are. A caring phone call or text can really brighten their day and show them that you’re thinking of them. As an added bonus, it gives you a heads up about how their day is going. If they’re having a tough time, you can curb your happiness about a work promotion and be more sympathetic as soon as you get home. You can tailor your attitude to make them feel that much better when you both get home.

10. Be grateful for what you have.

This is the simplest tip of all, because if you’re in a relationship, you clearly value your partner. Be thankful that you have someone you love who loves you back. Be thankful that they help you with household chores and support you during tough times and cheer you on during the good times. Look at your partner as much as you can and just smile that you have them by your side.

Featured photo credit: Ganesha Balunsat via flickr.com

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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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