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10 Unexpected Things That Make You A Better Person

10 Unexpected Things That Make You A Better Person

There is little incentive to develop yourself when life is nothing but puppy dogs, rainbows, and gum drops. It is the hard times (not the good ones) that show us what we’re really made of. Here is a small sample of unexpected things that make you a better person.

1. You are a member of the broken-hearts club.

Just because one relationship ended doesn’t mean you are doomed to be lonely forever. It is never wise to place the full weight of our happiness and well-being on the shoulders of another person. You might feel incapable of loving another person right now, but the feeling will pass. Being single will teach you to be more self-reliant and independent. Enjoy the alone time and get your inner-house in order before you invite anyone else to it.

2. You seriously dropped the ball in your relationship.

May I confess something kind of personal? A few years ago, when I was a young and stupid college kid, I cheated on a past partner. I can remember precisely what it sounded like when she cried. I felt so bad about this that I ended up sending her apology letters every now and then for YEARS after the fact. My failure taught me a hard lesson in how selfish actions can hurt other people. Am I happy it happened? Hell, no. But I know it won’t be a repeated mistake, because I never want to make a person feel that way ever again. If you screwed up in some way:

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1) Admit it.
2) Apologize.
3) Explain yourself.
4) Ask for forgiveness.
5) Move on.

Will the other person forgive you? It’s hard to say. But if you perform the above steps, there is little more you can do. Swallow the bitter pill and get on with your life.

3. You lost all faith in (insert God/Goddess/deity here).

First: I know the feeling. I went to a Christian college only to discover I was an atheist in my third year there. This realization came about during a bout of depression, where I stayed awake into the middle of the night, praying as hard as I could. The problem? I couldn’t shake the feeling that no one was listening to me on the other end. I felt alone in the dark, as if I was talking to myself. Losing my faith really sucked at first, but I came out with a stronger sense of independence and personal responsibility. You can also look forward to an improved ability to relate with Christians, atheists, and every religion in between.

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4. You feel so very alone in the world.

Do not wait for someone to fix you (unless you want to be waiting forever). You are the CEO of your life. Feeling alone in the world isn’t fun for anybody. But when you take control of your life, you will discover you’re more powerful than you ever imagined.

5. You faced a harsh rejection.

You applied for a job posting that sounded like it was written for you (only to receive a cold rejection e-mail the day after the interview). You asked out a person who you felt was a perfect match (only to be told “sorry, I just don’t see you that way”). You turned in a paper you felt was worthy of an “A” (only to receive a slap-in-the-face in the form of a “C” and snarky written remark from your jerk professor). The specifics notwithstanding, nothing makes you feel inadequate like rejection. But there is a glimmer of hope here: the more rejection you face, the less it will sting. I feel qualified to say this as a freelance writer and theater actor. The harsh reality of my life? I have been rejected for more writing gigs and acting roles than I’d like to admit. But it is what it is and I refuse to let it drag me down. Being turned down for a job used to make me feel insufficient, but today I don’t even flinch. Do likewise.

6. You realized most people don’t give a crap about you.

It’s harsh but it’s true. Most people are only interested in what you can do for them. The sooner you can learn this, the more you can focus on the people who truly appreciate you for who you are.

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7. You are struggling with no end in sight.

I’m not going to pretend to know how you feel or what you’re going through because I don’t, so I’ll spare you the hokey feel-good pep talk. But let me say this: if you’re going through something that makes you feel sad, angry, stressed, or lost… I’m sorry to hear it. That could be a mental or physical ailment, an unfortunate accident, a lost job, or just about anything. But no matter what you are going through, don’t give up hope. Channel your energy into helping other people facing the same struggle that you are. Helping others will make you feel happy and productive (plus you’ll learn that you are far from alone in the world).

8. You learned happiness isn’t a tangible thing.

“If only I had a better job/relationship/friends/body/car, then I would be happy!” Sound familiar? I hate to break it to you, but none of these things are going to make you feel any better. Do they offer temporary gratification? Sure. But life-long happiness? Probably not. Happiness is not a destination you can arrive to. It is a journey (as well as a choice) and just like any other journey, it has its highs-and-lows.

9. You feel like crying your eyes out.

Do it and without a single iota of shame. When is the last time you had a good cry? If you just paused for 10 seconds while deliberating, that means it has been far too long. Holding in your emotions will make them intensify, creating mental monsters that will be much harder to deal with later. Letting your tears come out without objection will help you relieve stress and drop the baggage that’s holding you back.

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10. You don’t know who you are anymore.

Coming to terms with the fact that your concept of self is shallow can be a shattering experience. Waking up to discover the petty, little words you use to describe yourself lack any true meaning can be a harsh slap-in-the-face. But realizing where you live, work, and worship is but a mere drop in the ocean of who you are opens the door for limitless self discovery and personal transformation. In other words: the real fun starts now. If you want to be a better person who strives to be the best human being they can be, consider this your invitation. Are you in?

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at 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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