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10 Harsh Truths about Being an Adult

10 Harsh Truths about Being an Adult

As you move through the stages of your life, you will invariably learn that things aren’t always as they are cracked up to be. As amazing as life can be, there are also harsh truths that you tend not to acknowledge until they are staring you in the face. Consider yourself warned about these ten facts you will have to deal with as you become a full-fledged adult.

1. You’re not invincible.

You may have great memories of skateboarding and kickboxing from your youth and you might revel in showing off the scars you collected along the way, but the older you get, the less your body will be able to bounce back from the idiotic exuberances of youth. You are going to have to pick your battles. Just because you might be able to jump from the roof of the house to the garage doesn’t mean you should.

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2. Patience is a virtue.

We live in a world that breeds short attention spans and severely limits a person’s ability to be patient, but the more able you are to wait for the good things in life, the better they will be. From money to relationships to career goals, rushing towards the finish line or your next great step is a sure fire way to miss out on a lot of valuable lessons and cheapen the things to accomplish on the way. Slow down.

3. You are responsible for yourself. 

A shocking reality that many people need to face about growing up is that all the little things you took for granted as a kid require an actual effort on your part. When a light bulb burns out, there won’t magically be a new one waiting in a kitchen drawer. You actually have to go out and buy light bulbs. The same applies for food, medicine, and soap.

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4. Your metabolism is slower. 

In addition to not being able to heal itself as readily, your body will become less efficient at turning food into energy and will store more as fat. Just because you got through high school and college living of the McDonald’s value menu doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do it forever. Learn to cook some healthy meals. Run regularly. Your body will thank you.

5. You will lose touch with people.

You may have posed with your college roommates in front of someone’s Macbook and put the “BFF” effect on the border, but that doesn’t mean you will actually be friends forever. You will lose touch with at least a few of the people you expected to be around forever. Your real, best friends will stick around but a surprising number of people will fade into the background.

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6. You will work for/with people you hate.

Another great place to apply the whole patience thing we learned about a few points ago is in the workplace. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, people you don’t like will find you. They will have a terrible sense of humor or they will have no sense of humor at all. They will be mean and spiteful and vindictive. Do your best not to let them spoil you on the rest of us.

7. Your interests will change.

You will become a person that the high school version of you would have made fun of mercilessly. It is one of the most subtle and surprising things about growing up, but eventually you will find yourself watching a show about people buying a house and you will be commenting with genuine interest on the material the countertops are made of and the level of curb appeal. It is better to just embrace this. It is more fun than it sounds.

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8. The world won’t slow down for you.

Another harsh truth about the world is that it moves quickly. The march of progress demands that we all pull our weight and if you can’t shake off the bad habits you picked up in school, there will be no one to make sure you keep up with the flow.

9. You will have less free time.

One of the great injustices of the world we live in is that as teenagers we have limitless amounts of time to fill with epic adventures, but no money to fund said adventures, and as adults, we have the money to do what we want but no time with which to do it. Seize the day whenever you can and don’t become a workaholic. Life is about relationships and experiences, though the world will try to make you forget that.

10. Things will get monotonous.

One of the easiest traps to fall into as an adult is routine. Obviously it is important and even enjoyable to know what lies around the next corner, but don’t let your life get too boring. You will have to make a conscious effort to seek out new things and to spice things up. Inertia is a hard thing to overcome, but it is worth it when you do.

Featured photo credit: Images Money 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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