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10 Things Grateful People Don’t Do

10 Things Grateful People Don’t Do

We equate happiness as a state in which we are always happy. We allow ourselves to believe it’s not good to cry. It’s not good to feel pain. It’s not good to feel sad, or be down, or experience setback, or go through heartbreak. But true happiness and inner contentment happens when your heart is grateful for everything your life experiences – the good, the bad, the hard, the easy, the defeats and the victories. The gratitude you express – or choose to not express – spills over into everything you do and everyone you meet.

Some of the happiest people on the planet are those free of circumstantial happiness. Their surroundings tell them they have nothing to be happy about, yet they smile and live life to the fullest. In a society built on comparison, materialistic gain, selfish ambition and more, more, more, it’s inspiring to be around these types of people – the ones who aren’t clawing and fighting to step on anyone or anything to be the best or get to the top. It’s refreshing to be around people who appreciate what they have, love who they are and embrace where they’re going. These people are living. They’re fully present. They’re embracing the here and now, seeing every day as an opportunity to become a better version of themselves and enjoying the journey in the meantime.

So what do they do? Better yet, what don’t they do and how can we be like them?

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1. They don’t compare their journey to anyone else’s.

It would be easy to fall into the trap of, “I wish,” “If only,” “They’re so lucky.” But what’s the point? Focusing on your faults and someone else’s strengths will not change one single thing about yourself or your situation. Instead, focus on what you do have, and carry on.

2. They don’t need to “feel” happy in order to be happy.

Happiness is based on always being happy. Contentment is a continual inner display of happiness regardless of life’s uncontrollable circumstances. See the difference? Practicing gratitude on a daily basis is the gateway for which both of these roads intersect.

3. They don’t run from their imperfections.

Every single human being on this earth has faults. No one is flawless. To assume people are perfect only proves how toxic our thinking can be. The first step to love your life is to admit (especially to yourself) you aren’t perfect but to move forward. Imperfections can be our greatest teachers if we see them as the catalyst for personal growth and change.

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4. They don’t ignore rest.

It’s not hard to work 60+ hours a week. There is plenty of pressure to always perform, constantly compete, and continually keep up. But the people who approach life with a sense of gratitude and calm are those who make the time to pause. They create quality pockets of time in which they can kick back and relax. It becomes their safe place where they can recharge, rejuvenate and refresh before heading back into the rat race.

5. They don’t forget the importance of relationship.

You can’t do life on your own. We like to think we can – like we’re tough and impenetrable and that life won’t drag us down. But we’re human. To find people who you can be safe and real with is what creates a strong foundation you can stand on when the going gets tough. But in order to have quality friends in your time of need, you need to be a quality friend in their time of need. Important investments take time. Reciprocal relationships take work.

6. They don’t allow time to control them.

Everyone gets 24 hours in the run of a day. That’s it! There is no extra hour to be found hiding under a bed somewhere. Grateful people know this. They know how precious of a commodity time really is, and they respect it. They see every single day as an opportunity to take charge of what they can take charge of, and they purposefully, diligently and intentionally make beautiful use of it.

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7. They don’t overlook the value in everyday people.

It happens over and over again – a cashier is dismissed, a homeless man is overlooked, an elderly lady is ignored, and a child is shrugged to the side. A grateful heart sees the value in every single human being. They recognize and appreciate that every person has potential to teach them something new and help them become a better person. We will never arrive. Our lives are on a continual journey of discovery and people are what matters most.

8. They don’t set pace to the rhythm of rush.

Speed up, so once you get there, you can speed to the next place. Why? What’s the rush? When you slow down to take in the scenery of your life, you notice the little details that lend subtle depth to what’s happening in the big picture. Big life moments would never happen without the little steps that have been taken to get there. Notice them.

9. They don’t give in to the pressure to have, be, and do it all.

Everything you have right now is enough. Everything you are right now is enough. There are people who could only dream to have the talent, the time, the money, the opportunity you have right now. Think about that. Ponder that. Appreciate that. Let that sink in. Then build a life around this mentality rather than the one that finds you never measuring up.

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10. They don’t take life for granted.

You would never be where you are today without that math teacher, that music instructor, that football coach, your Grandma, your Mom, your Aunt. Your life at present is marked with achievement and success because of the people who helped you get to where you are today. It takes but a few minutes to compile a list stating all the amazing things you already have. Try it. You’d be amazed how much you have going on in your life at this moment.

Featured photo credit: Cuba Gallery Lighthouse Blog 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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