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10 Hopes Grown-Ups See in Kids from Humans of New York

10 Hopes Grown-Ups See in Kids from Humans of New York

It’s difficult not to look at the state of the world today and feel despair. That’s probably one of the many reasons why the photo blog Humans of New York has become wildly popular — photographer Brandon Stanton gleans bits of regular people’s lives, providing a glimpse into the dreams they have and the challenges they’ve overcome. In these images of strangers, we find comfort in our shared humanity. The posts from kids are often especially poignant: The world will soon be in their hands, and it’s heartening to hear what they have to say. Here are 10 of the many hopes grown-ups can find in the little humans of New York.

1. Compassion

“If you could change one thing about adults, what would it be?”
“I’d give them more money.”
“More money?”
“Yeah. Some of them don’t even have money to buy food.”

Humans of New York

    Recognize others’ basic rights. Before you turn to judgment, or thinking about whether someone deserves help, think about how you would feel if you were in their situation. We all need help sometimes.

    2. Gratitude

    “Mom took care of me when I was sick so I wrote her a card but the teacher was too busy to help me spell it so I wrote a picture instead.”

    Humans of New York

      Be thankful for what you have. Take the time to acknowledge the acts of service, both great and small, that others do for you. Give to others, and express your thanks when others give to you.

      3. Mindfulness

      “I don’t understand my feelings. Sometimes I feel sad and I don’t know why. Then sometimes I feel silly, and I don’t know why either. Now I feel ‘wow,’ because this is my very first interview.”

      Humans of New York

        Own your feelings, and acknowledge them. If you have negative thoughts about a problem you can’t fix, practice letting go of them. When you feel joy, embrace it. Feelings aren’t objectively right or wrong — you choose how you manage them.

        4. Respect

        “I found a ladybug, a beetle, and a little tiny bug that I don’t know.”
        “So what advice would you give to other bug collectors?”
        “You have to be really focused and find a rock that is big but not too big and you lift it up and if there’s not any bugs you put it back down. But if there is a bug and you like it, you put it in your bug jar. But if you don’t like it you put it back and put the rock back down.”

        Humans of New York

          Even the most humble of creatures deserves basic respect. Be a steward of the earth. Get out into nature and explore, because you never know what might be beneath that next rock.

          5. Dedication

          “What was the happiest moment of your life?”
          “When Mr. Carson helps me with my writing.”
          “What’s the hardest part about writing?”
          “The spaces and the dents and you have to start with a capital. But if you do a good job Mr. Carson lets you play with toys.”

          Humans of New York

            Don’t expect yourself to perfect. Remember that practice makes better. When you’re faced with a difficult task, stick with it. The satisfaction of mastery is a reward in itself.

            6. Altruism

            “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
            “A police officer.”
            “What’s the hardest part about being a police officer?”
            “Saving people.”

            Humans of New York

              Helping someone else is one of the best things you can do in life. You don’t need to be a superhero; just be attuned to the needs of those around you. You can call it good karma, you can call it paying it forward. Either way, being of service to others puts more positive energy into the world.

              7. Enthusiasm

              Normally I have to approach people for quotes. But this kid walked right up to me, held his certificate in the air, and screamed: “I played at Carnegie Hall!”

              Humans of New York

                Take pride in your accomplishments. No one can take them away from you. You should never hide your talents from the world. You can make the world a better place by sharing your abilities.

                8. Practicality

                “I’m going to be an artist.”
                “Do you have any advice for other artists?”
                “Don’t press down too hard with your crayons.”

                Humans of New York

                  When you’re trying something new, it’s worthwhile to sweat the small stuff. Give yourself time to practice and learn. Don’t become angry with yourself if you aren’t improving as quickly as you wanted. If you keep working, you will get to where you want to go.

                  9. Aspiration

                  “I listened to my teacher and went beyond and above.”

                  Humans of New York

                    Always aim high. Work from the assumption that you can do it. Even if you try something and fail, you can learn much more from your failure than from not having tried at all.

                    10. Love

                    I photographed the little guy on the left because he was carrying a violin. During the post photo interview, his little brother kept chiming in with his own answers. It was clear that he wanted to be part of the process. After a few questions, the older one called to his brother: ‘Come be in my picture, Riley.’

                    Humans of New York

                      Sharing your life with others makes your life infinitely richer. Family and friends are some of the most important gifts we receive in life. Honoring those relationships strengthens your bonds, and helps everybody feel more connected.

                      Featured photo credit: Brandon Stanton via humansofnewyork.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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