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15 Signs You’re Born to Be A Free-Thinker

15 Signs You’re Born to Be A Free-Thinker

Free-thinkers are confident, logical and intelligent. They give birth to their own ideas and resist the dominating mantras of the simple-minded. Having a mind that is free and the courage to express it will often mean free-thinkers have only a few close friends (who are equally interesting and intelligent). Though they are proud of their brilliant minds they are also sensitive and seek harmonious relationships with accepting partners. It can be exhausting to resist the overwhelming myths of popular thought on a regular basis. Free-thinkers are intellectual heavy lifters in our world and their non-conformist, irreverent wit and insight shines a light on the fallacy of often illogical beliefs in many areas.

1. You Are The Pope Of Your Own Life

Speaking of dogma… as a free-thinker you live by your own set of rules and no one,  not even your beloved mother, can tell you to live otherwise. You came by your beliefs through your own experience and curiosity. You tested them and they stood up to your tests. It’s impossible for you to kowtow to religious or secular bylaws that were created to control people.

2. You Are Outstanding In Your Work And Play

A free-thinker does not understand mediocrity! You give everything your all. You don’t need to do a non-traditional job to be a free thinker. Because of your insight and imagination you may be the best legal secretary in the land but no-one knows that every weekend you jump into a uniform that looks like a space suit and go longboarding down mountain highways. Most people are happy to spell-check their way through their days, but you write life at a higher level.

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3.You Have Unique Style

Who wants to fit in? Free-thinkers stand out and you don’t need tattoos to do it. You may have them but you’re not following a trend; you’re expressing your life. Most people you know let their jobs dictate their style of thought and dress. Not you. You’re dapper, edgy or classic. You wear what you want and you wear it well.You’re Oscar Wilde or Baudelaire.

4. You Are Creative

Free-thinkers engage in creative thinking on many levels. Socially, emotionally, logically and spiritually. You may make movies that question deeply held beliefs, paint pictures that challenge conventional thinking about love, write stories that provoke people to question their place in the world or sing songs that dispel myths about sexual orientation. You think creatively because you think freely.

5. You Have Been Called Weird

Normies don’t get you. Nine to fivers think you’re wasting your life. Buttoned down bankers who profit from the funds of dictators and other (more local) criminals think you’re morally bankrupt because you don’t buy into the American dream. Free-thinkers see that the dream is crushing the reality. You go off to live in the woods off the grid and raise a bunch of hippie kids. You spend a year traveling to see every work of art you’ve ever wanted to see. You start a publishing company focusing on books for old people. You do what your heart calls you to do and that’s pretty weird.

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6. You Think For Yourself

As a free-thinker it goes without saying that you think for yourself. Ever since you heard your friends who are outside your faith are going to hell you’ve thought for yourself. There has been some seminal moment where you rejected the authority over you and started to think secret not-so-secret radical thoughts. You are so determined to think without constraints that you question your own thoughts and beliefs on a regular basis.

7. You Question Authority

A free-thinker knows that more knowledge or power does not mean you have a superior belief system. Historically, people with vast intelligence and power have been a destructive force in the world. The atom bomb was devised by some fairly smart dudes but they did some serious damage in the world. Even the most learned can be wrong. You know you don’t have to believe them but you also know you can if their ideas pass your qualifying tests.

8. You Have Friends With Whom You Disagree

Free-thinkers agree to disagree. Your book clubs are pretty raucous events. Eight people read the same book and have eight different takes on it. All of them make you think. It’s a pleasure to be in the company of people who spark your imagination. You think dinner parties are better when they sound like an old joke: “So, a Jew, a Catholic and an atheist come to dinner.” A closed community is a boring community. You’re not much for boring.

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9. You Have Heard Of The Kardashians (but know nothing about them)

Free-thinkers know what is going on in modern culture but they feel no need to buy in. You’re definitely not dead to modern culture. You think freely enough to have friends who watch this stuff but you don’t have time for it. The real estate in your brain comes at a higher cost than the price of admission charged by so called reality TV. You’d rather eat rusty nails.

10. You Don’t Watch Television

A free-thinker won’t find entertainment in a mind control box. There is nothing on TV that appeals to you and you don’t want your mind numbed and your money stolen by the marketing messiahs who promise a better life (if you only eat their brand of yogurt). TV is dead anyway. You can find your entertainment climbing mountains, dining with friends or selecting movies you want to watch when you want to watch them. Your mind will not be tamed.

11. You Read

A free-thinker likes to read. Yes, you read books. Whole books. With big words in them. You read more than headlines. You read more than articles. You like to fill your mind with well thought out, complex ideas – not sound bites. E-readers or actual books are equally of value to you.

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12. You Don’t Pay Attention To Labels (Except Food)

A free-thinker is label-free. Gay, straight and everything in between – you could care less and it’s likely you’ve tasted from the smorgasbord of Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian – you listen to all and come up with your own ideas. Feminist, Humanist, Pacifist, Realist – if there is any thing in any ist you like you adopt it but you don’t go wholesale to the point of exclusion or inclusion. The only labels you read are the ones that list allergies.

13. You Understand There Are Many Ways To See The World

A free-thinker is multi-dimensional and sees the world that way. Your best friend studies Buddhism, doesn’t eat meat or onions or garlic and stays away from the demon liquor. Your mum goes to church, runs a mission for orphans and refrains from the naughty words. Your favorite professor is a passionate communist, marks too hard (and with his bias showing) and has worn the same elbow patched stereotype of a tweed coat every day for at least the last 25 years. You like it all.You see the value in each and every way of being and it makes you happy that these people are in the world.

14. You Never Stopped Asking Why

Free-thinkers are confoundingly curious buggers. From about the age of three you’ve been asking why and you’ve never stopped. You now know why you poop, why dogs smell everything and why the caged bird sings. The bigger questions about life fascinate you and you love to explore them. Having said that… you’re still curious about the little things too. A visit to the dentist opens another world for you – so, when you eat sugar, microbial bacteria on your teeth release acids that cause cavities. Interesting…

15. You Have Fun

Free-thinkers don’t take things too seriously when they don’t have to. It’s fun to wrap your head around new ideas. It’s fun to try new things. It’s fun to eat new foods. Life is full of adventures and free thinkers are up for adventure.

Featured photo credit: Young hippie in a red dress dancing in the middle of the road on a hot summer day via shutterstock.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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