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15 Things Everyone Should Stop Doing For A Better Life

15 Things Everyone Should Stop Doing For A Better Life

“The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed – it is a process of elimination.”
-Elbert Hubbard

My desire to have a better life has been with me for as long as I can remember.  What I believed a “better life” would be for me in my twenties was very different than what I believe a better life is for me now thirty years later. In my twenties, a ‘better life” was focused more on the material things (car, house, clothes), which I believed would make me happy. In reality, looking back at me at 26 years old, those material things probably would have made me happy.

Now a ‘better life” for me is more about living my dream with lots of passion, lots of laughter and love, which of course brings happiness to me. Not a material thing in sight! Even though our definition of what a better life is can change over the years, the steps we take to how we can attain that “better life” doesn’t really change. As Elbert Hubbard said, a sculptor creates the beautiful statue through a process of chipping away the parts of the marble that are not needed. This process of elimination is what we need to take on board as we try to eliminate those things  that we do which prevent us from attaining a “better life for ourselves”.

The list of 15 things to stop doing has no order of priority – only you can decide which of the 15 things are the most important for you to stop doing.  Also, if you do want to create change in your life, get clear on the definition of what a better life is for YOU. This will help you identify the key things that you need to STOP DOING so that you can have a better life.

1. Stop overcomplicating your life. 

Complexity creates confusion and hides solutions in a haze of fog. It is very hard to be creative and innovative when you are bogged down with complexity and detail. Complexity will also prevent you from being open to finding the solutions that are often right in front of you.

 “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”
-Confucius

2. Stop adding BAD stress to your life.

Being too busy, working too hard on things you really don’t like doing, striving for perfection, taking on more responsibilities because you think it makes you feel valued and ending up having too many things to do takes away time for you to JUST BE YOU. Bad stress is harmful to your health and I don’t need to quote all the scientific research that supports how harmful bad stress can be. To be blunt, BAD STRESS over a continuous period of time will KILL YOU – so if you are prone to creating BAD STRESS in your life PLEASE STOP. Figure out WHY you are doing this to yourself and change.

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Stress is not what happens to us. 
It’s our response TO what happens. 
And RESPONSE is something we can choose
-Maureen Killoran

3. Stop regretting your actions from your past, what you haven’t achieved and what you have lost.

The past is over and what is more important is where you are now and where you want to be in the future. All your past experiences, mistakes and failures in your life have prepared you for living your life in the present and in the future. Acknowledge your past and what you have learnt, then let the past go and move forward to the future

“Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it; it’s only good for wallowing in”
Katherine Mansfield

4. Stop saying you have NO TIME.

Whether it’s to be with a friend, to visit your elderly aunt, to watch the sunset or sunrise, to have a holiday, to read a book, to sleep peacefully, or to go to a funeral, our time is so precious and you will never know when you run out of time. With no time, you can miss the most precious and beautiful moments in your life. With no time, you will put off all the important things you know you should do however choose not to do because you say you have no time.

“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.”
Lao Tzu

5. Stop choosing to be fearful about the future, about making mistakes, about following your dream, about change.

Fear is paralyzing and it will stop you from making any changes in your life. Your limiting self beliefs will control your thoughts and actions and will fuel your fear. You must deal with these limiting beliefs and know why it is that you are so FEARFUL. Acknowledge your fear and act anyway and I guarantee you will feel liberated and free!

” Fear is a powerful force that somehow does not allow many people to get what they want in Life”
-David Schwartz

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6. Stop procrastinating about all those things you say you want to do but never get around to doing.

Whether it’s taking up a cooking class, learning another language, going back to university, following your dream, writing a book, taking drama or painting classes, go do it. Take a trip to Europe, go to the gym, get fit and lose weight. Figure out what is important to you and what makes you happy and then go do it. I especially love what James Surowiecki says about procrastination!!

“Lack of confidence, sometimes alternating with unrealistic dreams of heroic success, often leads to procrastination, and many studies suggest that procrastinators are self-handicappers: rather than risk failure, they prefer to create conditions that make success impossible, a reflex that of course creates a vicious cycle.”
James Surowiecki

7. Stop looking to others for your happiness because your happiness can only come from within you.

When you look to others to make you happy, it is a sign that you are not being true to yourself. It is a dangerous thing to do because we can convince ourselves that being with the people we love does make us happy, however that is only part of the equation to you being happy. The message is pretty clear “only you can make yourself happy” and its important to figure what it is that you need to do to be fulfilled and happy.

“The greatest gift we give to someone who loves us is simply to be happy”
-Robert Brault

8. Stop comparing your life to others because they will have a better life than you and you will always feel miserable.

If you are doing this, then please stop and focus on doing things that build your self confidence and self belief in you.

“Comparison is the death of joy.”
Mark Twain

9. Stop waiting for the right time.

Don’t wait for the “right time” for you to take action, to make the change, to leave your job, to follow your dream, to do what ever it is that you need to do to be happy and have a better life. There never is a right time to be courageous, to initiate change and chase your dreams. If you choose to keep waiting for the right time, accept that your life will pass by and you will never attain that life you desire. Choose not to wait and you will have that life you so desire. Very simple!

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“I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have……. And through all that waiting, here I am. My life is passing, day by day, and I am waiting for it to start. I am waiting for that time, that person, that event when my life will finally begin”
Shauna Niequist

10. Stop running from your problems and taking the path of least resistance.

This is so easy to do. I use to be the Queen of Running away and looking for the easiest way out of a problem. However, I learnt over the years that the problem will come after you and will be waiting for you at the finish line. Running away from a problem or choosing the easy option does not give you a sense of achievement or make you feel courageous. Life is not perfect and its full of challenges, hard times and bad times. The challenges and problems we have in our lives have to be dealt with, and sometimes we have to be courageous and make difficult decisions.

You get hit the hardest when trying to run or hide from a problem. Like the defence on a football field, putting all focus on evading only one defender is asking to be blindsided.”
Criss Jami

11. Stop spending time with the wrong people as this will sap you of your energy, create friction in your life and get you nowhere.

This is a tough one to manage because there are times in our lives particularly in our work lives where we do come in contact with people who are not good for us. To stop spending time with the wrong people you may need to be quite strategic in how you manage the interaction with them. The goal here is to minimize the impact they have on your life. However, if you choose to spend time with people who are sucking happiness from you, then you need to remove yourself from these relationships. The relationship you have with these people is toxic and will only bring unhappiness to your life.

The worst regret we can have in life is not for the wrong things we did,but for the thousands of right things we did for the wrong people”
-Unknown

12. Stop focusing on what you DONT want to happen – focus on what you DO want to happen.

When you are focusing on what you don’t want to happen, it is a sign that you don’t know what you want in life and you are not committed to making the changes you need to make in order for you to create a better life. There is no desire, no motivation and no vision of your future. If you don’t have these things then all you will do is focus on what can go wrong and how bad it will be for you. Flip the coin – get your life vision sorted, get motivated and commit to making the changes you need to make to have a great life. Once again, its simple, but it requires work and perseverance from you.

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside awakens.”
-Carl Jung 

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13. Stop trying to be someone you are not because you will end up confused about who you are.

You will end up doing things that will be in conflict with your value system. For a period of time you will be able to convince yourself that you have done the right things and you will have all the excuses lined up in your head as to why your actions or behaviour was justified. After a while the feeling of discontentment and unhappiness will rise to the surface and you will have a choice – either ignore it and continue with the feeling of discontent OR stop being that person that you don’t like being. If you stop being that yucky person your life will get better.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

14. Stop putting other people’s needs before yours – spend time getting to know you and look after yourself.

If you are doing this then you are not taking care of your needs and you are being a martyr –  which may not serve you well. Being a martyr to me is about personal sacrifice for the benefit of others and that role is really only for people who have been ordained Saints! Not everybody is a Saint and it doesn’t mean that if you are not a Saint, you are a bad person. Ask yourself “why is it that I sacrifice my needs over those of others?”.The answer may be that, you believe that by putting others needs before yours makes you feel loved?? I read this wonderful book called the FIVE LANGUAGES OF LOVE  and it helped me get perspective on what I need to show and feel love. Here is the website – 5 Love Languages –  go have a look and figure out what it is you need to do to express love and to be loved,

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.”
Dalai Lama XIV

15. Stop beating yourself up.

No matter what it is, stop beating yourself up about not being great, not being perfect, being too fat, not being good enough, not being intelligent enough – just stop beating yourself up.

“Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing the answers. You don’t always have to know who you are. You don’t have to have the big picture, or know where you’re heading. Sometimes, it’s enough just to know what you’re going to do next.”
Sophie KinsellaThe Undomestic Goddess

Featured photo credit: Anita Peppers via morguefile.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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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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