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14 Harsh But Obvious Truths Most People Choose to Forget

14 Harsh But Obvious Truths Most People Choose to Forget

Similar to success, the interpretation of happiness is unique to each individual’s heart and mind. Despite the wealth of studies conducted to investigate the concept of happiness and the individual factors that influence it, there is no single, accurate metric for which it can be effectively measured.

That being said, there are a number of harsh truths that people often overlook during the pursuit of happiness. This may be a conscious act of ignorance, since these austere facts of life challenge those who are indecisive or lacking in mental toughness. Recognizing these truths will actively empower you to achieve happiness, both in your professional and personal pursuits.

meaning of Life

    What are these truths and what benefits can you enjoy by recognizing and accepting them as fundamental aspects of life? Consider the following:

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    1. Life is Short and There’s More to be Embraced

    While there is evidence to suggest that the average life expectancy is continuing to rise even in developing economies, it’s a fundamental truth that the typical human existence is relatively short. Although this is not a positive thought, you should consider it as a reminder to make the most of every opportunity that comes your way and live your life to the fullest.

    2. Failure is a Fundamental and Necessary Part of Life

    While none of us like to fail, this is unfortunately an inescapable and omni-present fact of life that must be accepted unequivocally. Even though you may fear failure, you cannot refuse to accept new challenges simply in an attempt to avoid feelings of disappointment. When you consider that failure is a necessary foundation on which success is often built, it is something that can be embraced and given positive associations.

    3. You Have a Lot to Learn Regardless of Your Age

    Whether you are a teenager, in the prime of life or approaching your retirement, you cannot deny that learning is a constant process that continues from birth until the day that you die. If you fail to absorb new information or methods of working as you continue to age, you will ultimately cease to evolve or advance in line with social progression.

    4. There are Always Factors That You Cannot Control

    The course of your life is influenced by a series of factors, from the people you meet, to your health, or the decision others make. Many of these factors will remain outside of your direct control, and it is important that you do not waste your time, talent and emotional energy attempting to influence them. Instead, you should focus solely on influencing the factors that you can control, such as prioritizing your goals and surrounding yourself with positive people throughout your lifetime.

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    5. Information Should Never be Confused with Knowledge

    While it is possible to spend the majority of your life absorbing data and acquiring information, this should never be confused with gaining knowledge. At best, attempting to read information and discussing theoretical ideals merely gives you a philosophical understanding of a particular subject. Experience and practical endeavors provide you with a satisfactory level of knowledge that can equip you to succeed in life.

    6. A Busy Life is Not Necessarily a Productive One

    If you ever hear people discussing the concept of a ‘busy fool,’ they are referring to individuals who invest vast amounts of time and energy into projects without achieving anything noteworthy. It is a sad truth that many of us mistake business for productivity, in the same way that some confuse an excess of physical endeavor with inspiration. Productivity relies on a more structured approach and the ability to schedule time in a sensible manner.

    7. You Cannot Achieve Success in Life Without Providing Value

    We have already discussed how the interpretation of success varies from person to person, but this does not mean that there are not fundamental rules that can help you to achieve your goals. It is important not to become preoccupied with a generic understanding of success, or simply aspire to become wealthy and famous without understanding how you intend to achieve these ambitions. You cannot be successful without first providing value, and this requires you to develop in-demand skills and apply them over a period of time.

    8. Understand the Clear Distinction Between Thinking and Doing

    Theory is a crucial aspect of social, scientific and technological advancement, and it has underpinned some of the most important developments since the dawn of the 21st century. The cultivation of such wisdom would mean little without the efforts of pragmatists, who are happy to stand on the shoulders of giants and use intellectual theory to create a practical application. This perfectly epitomizes the difference between thinking and doing, which is important to understand if you are to strike a productive balance in your own life.

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    9. The Past Can Never be Changed, Only Learned From

    Like failure, our past experiences are the building blocks that help structure our lives and determine all future successes. This should help you to cope with the fact that you will never be able to change your past or the impact that it has had on your life, regardless of your age or the outlook that you have on life. Instead, what you can do is control how you react to past events and learn from them in a constructive and positive manner.

    10. You Must Take Responsibility for Your Own Happiness

    While we all dream of finding love and settling down with a life-partner, there is always a risk that a romantic relationship can end acrimoniously and in heartbreak. This ending can occur because you have an unhealthy view of relationships, and place your heart and happiness in the hands of a loved one. This is extremely counter-productive, as you must assume responsibility for your own happiness and develop a sense of self-worth that enables you to approach relationships from a position of emotional security.

    11. There Will Always be People Who Do Not Like You

    On a similar note, this inflated sense of security can help you to deal with the fact that there will always be people who do not like you. If you pursue a path in life that encourages you to focus on being a people-pleaser who wishes to avoid conflict at all costs, you will ultimately become discontented and detached from your own goals. Instead, accept that you will never be everything to everyone and focus on being true to yourself in the pursuit of happiness.

    12. You Will Get Out of Life What You Put Into It

    Life is an exercise in establishing goals, pursuing them and generating some form of return for your efforts. A general rule is that you will get out of life what you are prepared to put into it, whether this relates to love, friendship or professional success. If you remain willing to invest time and effort into delivering value, you will surely secure success over a prolonged period of time.

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    13. Repeating the Same Activities Every Day Hinders Self-improvement

    While there may be staple features of your daily routine, the failure to embrace new lifestyle actions and broaden your range of activities will ultimately hinder self-improvement and personal development. Growth occurs as a result of change or evolution, while such an outlook also exposes you to new and exciting experiences. So although change for changes sake should be avoided, it should be considered as a viable option when necessary.

    14. Accept That Change is Intimidating and Will Likely Prompt Feelings of Fear

    Before you implement changes into your life, you may experience feelings of fear and genuine trepidation. This is because you are effectively embracing the unknown, which can trigger more significant changes in your life over a longer period of time. You will never be 100% prepared for change or new chapters in your life, which means that you must maintain a willingness to be bold and operate outside of your comfort zone during the pursuit of success.

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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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