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10 Reasons Why Growing Up Isn’t As Bad As You Think

10 Reasons Why Growing Up Isn’t As Bad As You Think

For years I thought I was all grown up, I thought I knew it all and that my life was pretty much perfect. I had a great job, lots of money, lots of friends, and I lived the high life in London. I was pretty much at the peak of my career and I thought I was happy.

Looking back on those days, I see my life totally differently. Now I see it as totally and utterly miserable. I wasn’t free. I felt literally chained to my work and my social life, and I mixed with people who didn’t know the real me.

As you grow older and grow up for real, you begin to realize that the carefree lifestyle you think you are living isn’t what life is all about. In some respects it is – keeping that child-like quality to your life is so important – but what is even more worthwhile and totally liberating is growing up and grasping that growing older doesn’t mean something depressing or sad. In fact, it’s the opposite: it’s what life is really about!

Here are a few reasons why I think just that:

1. Your mind grows too, not just your body

It’s true, you’ll get grey hair, wrinkles and maybe put on a bit of extra weight around the waist, but what you’ll gain there is nothing compared to what you will gain within your mind.

When you are young your mind is new, like a blank canvas, but as you grow you get to stretch it and use it in ways you never thought possible. Growing up gives you the chance to expand your thinking, to delve into the weird and the wonderful, and it will encourage you to create your own beliefs, opinions and values.

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2. You start to see people for who they really are

We’ve all got friends, right? Some are the ones you have a laugh with, some are those you have deep conversations with, and the others are just mere acquaintances.

Yet, you’ll know the ones who are immature, the ones who refuse to grow up. They’ll be the ones who still muck about in restaurants, who think it’s funny to make fun of people in public and who still hang out late at night drinking and playing pranks.

It’s OK to have fun, I’m not saying that, but don’t you want to be the person who you were meant to be? By living a purposeful life, doing what you love and being surrounded by people who ‘get’ you?

The choice is yours, just know that you can either stay acting like a 16-year-old or you can enjoy life to its fullest and grow up.

3. You realize that it’s healthy to be on your own

I couldn’t wait until I moved out of my family home; I was 19 and found a room in a shared house. I just couldn’t wait to get out there and fend for myself. The thought was not only thrilling but I knew that it would mean that growing up would be that much quicker.

Yes, I’ll admit it was scary, but you know what? There is nothing better than knowing you can look after yourself and start to ‘bring home the bacon,’ as it were. It’s a great feeling knowing that you will no longer rely on your mother to have dinner ready for you when you get home from work, or that you have make sure you’ve got the rent for next month.

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It might be a struggle at times, but what appears to be a struggle is just a lesson in something, and if you can look at it that way you’ll go a long way towards growing up and loving every minute of it!

4. You don’t care what other people think

This is a big step up towards growing up. Remember at school you’d always want to look cool or hang out with the popular crowd? When you start to grow up, you’ll learn that other people’s opinions of you and what they think don’t really figure in your life anymore.

You’ll be so much happier going your own path in life, and once you start that journey you’ll not want to look back!

There is nothing more liberating than not caring what others think of you, because you’ll focus on your own wants and needs and live to please yourself. Just remember that’s not an excuse to be selfish or conceited – not at all! It’s more the fact that if you are happy within yourself and your own decisions, you’ll be a much nicer person to be around!

5. You’ll become much more open minded

Remember how you’ve always wanted to write a book or travel to some far-flung, mosquito-infested jungle somewhere? As you grow you’ll think of ways of creating those dreams and begin to give yourself permission to just go for it.

What you’ll realize is that the word ‘impossible’ is no longer in your vocabulary. You’ll start to see doors opening where they were once closed, providing you with new and thrilling adventures along the way. Growing older will give you the courage to open your mind much further than before and fill your life with miracles.

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6. You realize change is a good thing

Remember where you were in your life 10 years ago, who you were with, what you were doing and the clothes you wore. Yeah, they are probably pretty embarrassing memories, but what this shows you is that life changes and there’s not much you can do about it.

Now imagine what you will be doing in another 10 years from now, it’s exciting isn’t it? Change is something that should be embraced, not be feared, and it’s a great way to re-invent your life and make it more memorable as you get older. Plus it’s a wonderful way to learn from your mistakes, and improve yourself and your relationships.

7. You finally understand what really makes you happy

With growing up comes a better understanding of yourself and your needs. It’s here, knowing who you really are, that you can find out what truly makes you happy. It’s purely personal and could be anything from painting landscapes, to reading a good, juicy novel, or listening to great music.

It’ll also sort out the unhappy stuff too, which will guide you through the rest of your life so you keep doing stuff that makes you happy instead of unhappy. Making the decisions for your own life is all part of growing up and with this comes a knowing that life is pretty limitless.

8. You become grateful for what you already have

I see kids today always wanting something else, something new to distract themselves with and wanting what the other kids have. They never seem to be happy with what they already have, leaving many parents wringing their hands in frustration and debt!

As you grow up, learning to be grateful for what you already have is a wonderful approach to life. It makes your life so much easier, no longer focusing on what you don’t have and being happy with what you do have. Once you grasp this, which you will do as you grow, you’ll get more stuff to be grateful about!

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9. You realize taking care of your body is important

What you put into your body is important. Having never been a fast food person I personally don’t get the reason why we as a culture love it so much, but I do understand that it’s fast and it fills the hole!

It’s OK for when you are young because your metabolism is that much faster. You’ll probably do more exercise and, let’s face it, taking care of yourself isn’t that high on your agenda. However, as you get older you’ll understand that your body is a finely tuned instrument, working on your behalf to keep you going, to keep you alive and well.

What you put into your body is so important, not only for your own health but also because you’ll want to stick around long enough to have children, to meet your grandchildren or even long enough to outlive your dog! So taking the time out to eat well and exercise regularly seems a fair exchange don’t you think?

10. It’s just going to happen!

No matter how hard you try, how young you think you dress, or what color your dye your hair, you are going to get old and that’s a fact!

Choose today to stop trying to prevent it from happening and just let it be.

Grow up. Let life take you on its glorious ride and learn to love every minute of it. You’ll thank yourself for it in the end trust me!

Featured photo credit: benleto via flickr.com

More by this author

Paula Lawes

Paula loves people and connecting. She writes about communication and relationships tips on 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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