Advertising
Advertising

11 Ways to Live a Life With No Regrets

11 Ways to Live a Life With No Regrets

We all hope to live a life with no regrets – but how many of us do?

Ask yourself this question:

If it were all about to end for you tomorrow – if that meteor out there in space is headed right for us, if that drunk doesn’t stop for the red light – would you have regrets at the way it all turned out?

Many of us have known regret. Some regrets are unavoidable, but sometimes they can take over our lives. As Mick Jagger said:

“The past is a great place and I don’t want to erase it or to regret it, but I don’t want to be its prisoner either.”

And what about the regrets we are in the process of creating today?

Let’s look at 11 things we can do right now so that when we write the final chapter on our own personal story, we can make it a happy ending.

1. First, Celebrate Your Failures

It’s really okay to screw up.

Have you ever watched a hurdler in the Olympics? Have you counted how many hurdles the winner knocks over in that 110 metres? About half of them! They don’t even break stride. Because it’s not about running the perfect race and not knocking over any hurdles, it’s about getting across the line.

It’s the same in football: the only guy who ever makes a mistake is the one involved in the play. So don’t ever regret failing – at least you were giving it a shot.

‘I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that’s why I succeed.’ – Michael Jordan.

2. Claim Your LIfe

You’re the one bearing the consequences of your life – but are you the one living it?

Advertising

Do you make your decisions based on your dreams and aspirations – or because it’s what your mother wants, what your father expects, what your husband needs?

Are you always afraid of what others might say about you if you live life your way?

One day life will be gone – imagine how you’ll feel if you get to the end of it and never made any of the important decisions in it. This is something you can change today.

“One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead”
–Oscar Wilde

3. Say Yes or No Today to Your Dreams

Do you have a dream? Are you actively pursuing it – or have you left it for ‘one day’?

One Day is the one day that never comes.

So if you want never to have regrets then make the decision here, now, even before you finish reading this post: either say goodbye to your dream or start pursuing it today. That way you will have consciously made the decision to follow it or abandon it. So go for it – or forever be comforted by your reasons not to, then let go.

Then there will be no regrets.

‘Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.’
Sydney J. Harris

 

4. Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up Without You

We need to spend time at work if we’re going to succeed.

But we also have to remember what we’re doing for. Kids are not kids for very long – and if you miss them growing up, you won’t ever get a second chance.

Advertising

‘Your children love you, they want to play with you. How long do you think that lasts? Soon Jack may not even want you to come to his games. We have a few special years with our children, when they’re the ones that want us around. After that you’re going to be running after them for a bit of attention. It’s so fast, Peter. It’s a few years, and it’s over. And you are not being careful. And you are missing it.’

– Moira Panning, in “Hook.”

5. Close Doors

Maybe you did have your heart set on playing for the Boston Red Sox if it wasn’t for that stupid motorbike accident when you were 18.

Maybe you did just lose the love of your life and you’ve got good reason to be sitting on the couch with that bottle and that Barry Manilow break-up song playing on a loop.

There are some regrets we just have to live with.

But unless you get out and try again, you’ll never know if there wasn’t something better, will you?

‘When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.’
–Alexander Graham Bell

6. Learn From Your Mistakes, Don’t Regret Them

Have you noticed that people who regret their mistakes also tend to make those same mistakes again and again?

Regretting a mistake is not the same as learning from it.That’s why we repeat them until the lesson sinks in.

‘The only thing I regret about my past is the length of it. If I had to live my life again I’d make all the same mistakes – only sooner.’
Tallulah Bankhead

7. Be Afraid of Being Afraid

Before we make a decision, most of us think: What if?

What if I take that job overseas and I don’t like it, or I don’t like the country? What if I ask that girl out and she says no? What if I fail? What if people laugh at me?

Advertising

Then years later we’re bored with our job, and we wished we’d seen more of the world before we had our family. Or we got to a reunion and met that girl we thought was out of our league, and she’s married to someone else, and she tells you she always liked you and never understood why you never asked her out.

The only ‘what if?’ to be scared of is this one: what if you get to the end of your life and realise you’ve wasted it?

‘As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.’
Zachary Scott

8. Stop Thinking You Can Tell God What to Do

Many of our regrets come from life not working out just the way we planned it. We stick with a go-nowhere relationship, with a job that makes us miserable, because hey, we had our fixed our sights on him since high school and also, we always said we’d  be a lawyer one day.

Because we’ve decided that life has to be this way or we won’t be happy.

And we blinker ourselves, losing the chance to be with someone better, to change direction and find a job we actually love.

‘We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.’
— Joseph Campbell

9. No Sage Has Rage

If you’re like me, your comebacks come back half an hour after you need them. But that’s not always such a bad thing. How many times has saying something angry in the heat of the moment burned off a friend, a lover? You can take back a faulty toaster but you can’t ever take back an angry word.

‘Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.’
Ambrose Bierce

10. Don’t Hide Your Feelings

The greatest regret you can have is having someone leave your life forever and you haven’t told them how you really feel.

‘I love you.’
‘Thank you.’
‘I’m sorry.’

Is there someone you would like to say one of these things to? Do it now – you can never possibly know if this is not the last chance you’ll ever have to do it.

Advertising

‘The regret of my life is that I have not said ‘I love you’ often enough.’
Yoko Ono

11. And Most of All, Remember – It’s Not Over Yet

Even if you have a barrow-load of regrets right now, do remember one thing.

It’s not over.

No matter how many mistakes you’ve made in your life, you only have to get it right once.

Don’t look at what might have been – keep your eyes on the prize.

“A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams”
–Yiddish Proverb

So now you’ve finished reading this, you have a choice.

You can go back to your busy, busy life and carry on as if nothing has happened.

Or you can call someone up and say what’s on your mind, you can think about going after that job, you can call up that girl, you can start walking that Appalachian trail.

Because if you don’t, you may really regret it later.

A life of no regrets. It could start right here, right now.

‘Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.’

~Steve Jobs

Featured photo credit: Bigstock via bigstock-Happy-group-of-friends-family-43459618.jpg

More by this author

Seven and a Half Chances You Won’t Regret Taking In Life 11 Ways to Live a Life With No Regrets 8 Signs You’re Not Following Your True Path 8 Outstandingly Successful People: 8 Outstanding Reasons Why 10 Steps to Fight Your Way Out Of Despair and Find Happiness Again

Trending in Communication

1 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 2 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 3 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 4 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 5 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next