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15 Life Lectures From Grandpa

15 Life Lectures From Grandpa

My grandfather was born one year and one week after Oreo cookies came into existence, and he lived to celebrate 100 years March 13, 2013, meeting his only great granddaughter, my daughter Meredith Violet, and holding his youngest of four grandchildren, my son Russell Rain. Though he lived in Florida during much of the time I was growing up in New Jersey, he visited about once every year or two. My family drove to Florida to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary around 1995 or 1996. I learned most of what would be considered life lectures not from his words but from my Grandpa’s actions.

Life Lectures From Grandpa: show don’t tell

Of the times I talked with my grandfather, I remember more about how he showed me to live than what he said. “Children should be seen and not heard” was a popular phrase for his generation, but he showed us more by listening to us.

1. Eat well

I remember laughing when my grandfather picked flowers and assorted berries from the yard of our suburban New Jersey home in the early ’90s, if not the late ’80s. He put the plant life in a bowl after washing it. I believe we ate violets, but his action inspired me to look to nature for sustainability.

lemonade-stand

    Ellen Eldridge, age 5 or 6, with her brother and grandfather. Grandmother is at the door, checking on supplies for the lemonade

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    2. Be entrepreneurial

    Grandpa encouraged my brother and me to start a lemonade stand as kids. Though the business is a cliche like tea parties and playing princess, I don’t think either of us kids would have thought to start our own business without someone’s lead. We likely sold little, but the actions that day spoke louder than words and I’ve gone on to start more business ideas including a fanzine in high school.

    3. Keep exercising

    My grandfather still mowed his own lawn at age 90 with a push mower. Not the electrical kind either. When visiting him and my grandmother, we grandchildren felt amazed that they not only got into the swimming pool still but also my grandfather dove in from the diving board. Staying active kept my grandparents healthy.

    4. Value your roots and family history

    Grandfather and my father, who was the eldest child of four, took an interest in tracing the family’s lineage and building charts of our ancestors. Valuing your family means taking care of them while they’re young as much as it means never forgetting the ones who’ve come before you.

    5. Do what you say you will do

    The value of following through came by way of life lectures from Grandpa in that he always did what he said he would do. From making salad to waking up early and making the bed, he did what he said he would do.

    6. Earn your way in life

    As much as my brother, sister, cousins and I loved getting coveted quarters from Grandpa, he insisted we earn them by pulling weeds or studying to make good grades. The life lectures from Grandpa of earning money were continued by my father, who insisted we complete chores for an allowance.

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    7. Save money

    Even more important though perhaps a lost lesson, saving money was a life lesson Grandpa and my father tried to instill from a young age. The importance of making conscious purchases and not frivolously wasting money dawned on me toward the end of my twenties rather than at the beginning, but Grandpa tried.

    8. Honor your country

    Many of the people my age and younger have grandparents and parents who served in the military. My Grandpa gave me a large seashell that I believe he told me came from the beach at Normandy. He never spoke much about war, but knowing he served proudly in the Navy encouraged me to later join the Army Reserves.

    9. Treat other people as you would have them treat you

    My Grandfather first taught me the Golden Rule. This was one life lecture he never had to show me. I took his word for it that the kind thing to do is treat people the way you want to be treated.

    10. Don’t stay in a job you don’t like

    My grandpa never ran from responsibility, but he made sure to encourage my father and his other children to follow their hearts. My father became a mechanical engineer. I know as much as I knew to follow through with the lemonade stand idea that doing what you like is the key to never feeling like you’re working.

    11. Always be honest

    By never lying to me or anyone else I’m aware of, my husband’s father, who is now 78, taught my husband to never lie. The strength of doing what you say inspires integrity.

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    12. Don’t judge people based on age

    Not my grandfather, but a nontraditional student over the age of 70 taught me not to judge others based on their age. Universities and colleges allow people over a certain age (62 in Georgia, where I am enrolled) to attend tuition free. The man who has showed up and worked twice as hard as traditional students proved one of life’s most important lessons is to educate yourself.

     

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      13. Family first

      I interviewed briefly a woman who had just turned 100. She reminded me of my grandfather, as he had just died a few months before his 101 birthday. I asked the woman what her favorite memories were and she just said family meant everything to her. It made me happy to know I decided to travel more than four hours with a screaming 3-month-old son and moody 2-year-old daughter so they could meet their great grandfather on his 100th birthday.

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      14. Plan but don’t spend all your time planning

      One of my Grandpa’s and now one of my favorite quotes is “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

      Planning and making strategic choices are crucial to learning from mistakes, but with great risk comes great reward. Live a little and enjoy spontaneity when possible and appropriate.

      15. Rely on no one but yourself and love everyone

      My Grandfather taught me and everyone in our family by example. He stayed active and supported my Grandmother until she passed away around age 92. After she was gone, my Grandpa remained in his own home until the end of his life, at age 100. While he had a caretaker who came to the house, my Grandpa took care of himself until the very last few years. I know he accepted a ride to the store once a week to buy food, and he cooked for himself well into his nineties. His self-reliance kept him independent, but he remained loving and welcoming to everyone who came to visit. I believe the love and family surrounding him at his 100th birthday gave him the satisfaction and courage to move into the next lesson, the afterlife.

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      Ellen Eldridge

      Ellen is a passionate journalist. She shares her everyday life tips 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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