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10 Mistakes to Stop Making Now to Avoid Lifelong Regrets

10 Mistakes to Stop Making Now to Avoid Lifelong Regrets

When people look back on their lives, what are some of the most common regrets they have? That is a profound question we need to stop and ask more often. Some people look back and say the biggest mistake they made was to not have children. Others look back and say their biggest regret was about lost time. Whatever the case, it’s important to look at how you are living your life and think about how you can avoid future regrets. Many mistakes we make that lead to regret later in life are avoidable. Here are a few of the most common mistakes you need to stop making now to avoid regrets later on in life.

1. Following someone else’s dream.

The pain of unfulfilled dreams is more severe than that of disappointments. Twenty, 30 or 40 years from now you will not think about how disappointing you were to your parents for not following the career path they chose for you as much as you will regret not pursuing your own true life passions. Do yourself a favor and stop living for other people’s dreams. Live your own life. It is your life after all, isn’t it?

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2. Taking your loved ones for granted.

Your kids won’t be kids forever. If you don’t enjoy them when they are young, soon they will be grown-ups and the opportunity will be gone forever. Your parents also won’t live forever. You will be hard pressed to forgive yourself for not telling and showing them how much they meant to you when they are gone. Spend quality time with everyone you love.

3. Pretending to be someone you’re not.

Society expects us to act and do things in certain ways. While it’s easy to succumb to the pressures of society, don’t change so that people will like you. Don’t live your whole life pretending to be someone you aren’t just to fit in. Be yourself. The most admirable and inspiring people in this world are their true selves. When you are yourself, you are comfortable. You attract like-minded people who love you for who you are, and who will help you live the most fulfilling life you can.

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4. Burning all your bridges.

As the old adage says, be kind to the people you meet on your way up, because you might need them on your way down. You might not want to hear this, but life is a journey of ups and down. Today you might be riding the waves of success in your personal and professional life, but who knows what tomorrow holds. Don’t burn those bridges in your past that helped you get to where you are now, including past friendships, networks and relationships. You might need them later in life.

5. Telling lies all the time.

Some people tell lies so easily and readily that is has become second nature to them. What these people don’t realize until it is too late is that lies destroy families and relationships, often permanently. True relationships cannot be held together by lies. Tell lies and you will inevitably regret it later in life. Tell the truth and you will never have to look back with remorse and regret for lies told.

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6. Forgetting to live in the moment.

Life is fleeting. Don’t get caught up in the mad rush of modern living and forget to enjoy those little moments that make life worth it, such as your baby’s first steps or your daughter’s graduation. Quit working too much and learn to appreciate your surroundings and the people in your life. There is nothing worse than reaching your goals and discovering you don’t know how you got there.

7. Giving up true love.

Love is a big area of regret for many people. Too many times people reject real love because they are scared of it, don’t recognize it, or are too busy pursuing other things. Denying yourself the opportunity to love and be loved is denying yourself the one real thing that can make life worth living. Accept pure love from everyone and give it generously to all. If you are lucky to find true romantic love, cherish it and protect it as fervently as you can. We all come to think about our love experiences decades later. Don’t let this be an area of regret in your life.

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8. Denying others happiness.

Do good to all and spread happiness. It adds value to your own life and makes other people truly grateful. When you are old and look back, you will smile and be happy for showing kindness and helping other people be the best they can be. That orphaned child you helped get through school, for example, will come visit you when she is all grown up and it will fill your soul with joy and happiness. In the end, it is not how much money or how many material possessions you have accumulated that count, but how many lives you have touched.

9. Not standing up for yourself and others.

There are many injustices in this world. These injustices continue because not enough of the good guys stand up for what is right. Never stand by and watch passively as an injustice takes place. Stand up for yourself and for others bravely. It is better to die for a good cause, than live for no cause or a bad cause. When you are older, you will take pride that you participated in making the world a better place for all and did not just sit passively as bad things happened around you.

10. Disregarding your health and wellness.

Your health is your life. Never disregard it. Take care of yourself religiously. Eat right and exercise regularly. Don’t be one of those people who only think about their health when there is a problem and they are feeling unwell. You might not get better for you to take better care of your health.

Featured photo credit: Regret/Neil Moralee via flickr.com

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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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