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16 Things You Need to Do To Live Life Without Regrets

16 Things You Need to Do To Live Life Without Regrets

One of my favorite business books, The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together by John Carlton, recounts the story of a memorable scene Carlton witnessed at the San Francisco airport. Here’s what happened:

Most flights were being canceled because of a big storm that had hit, but one stressed out business traveler insisted that he needed to get to his destination. He snarled and screamed and cussed at the poor airline worker until his face turned red … and then suddenly he fell to the floor clutching his chest. He had a heart attack and died on the spot.

The point of this unfortunate story is, this man surely regretted his behavior in these final moments in life. We all work ourselves up about trivial inconveniences when there are so many good things in life we should be focusing on instead.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” If you want to live a life without regrets, here are 16 things you can do to help you starting right now.

Find your life’s purpose.

Finding your life purpose may seem like a tall order. But here’s the thing: it’s already within you. Trust that you’re on the right path. And think about what makes you happiest in life–the things that tug at your heart and make you feel. As Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.

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Stop playing the victim.

Here’s a harsh truth for you: life isn’t fair. It will knock you down when you least expect it and leave you lying in the gutter to fend for yourself. You can choose to be a victim of circumstance or you can get back up and keep going. It’s that simple.

Don’t make excuses.

Guess what else people who play the victim do a whole lot of? Make excuses. Don’t be that guy/girl. Take responsibility for your actions. Stop self-handicapping yourself.

Don’t waste time.

Time is your most valuable asset. Don’t waste it. One of the biggest regrets people have when it’s all said and done is how they spent their time. If you want to live without regrets, start asking yourself this one simple question often: is this the best use of my time?

Step out of your comfort zone.

To live without regrets, you need to be bold and take risks. No-one achieves greatness by sitting back and playing it safe.

Cut the fat.

This may be a tough pill to swallow, but there are people in your life who are holding you back. Choose to spend most of your time with positive people. Negative folks will only bring you down.

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Visualize.

What you think becomes your reality. Creative visualization is one of the most effective techniques for harnessing the power of your mind. You possess an amazing gift — the ability to create using your brain. Use it.

Make time for family and friends.

Relationships are one of the keys to happiness. In the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, one of the top regrets people had was not staying in touch with friends. To live a life without regrets, spend more time with people you love.

Live in the present.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, and today is a gift … that’s why it’s called “The Present.” Enough said.

Ask questions.

Assumptions are the most dangerous thing in the world. Don’t assume. Ask.

Do what you love.

I talk to people all the time who are “stuck” in jobs they hate. If this is you, do something about it. Start a side gig working on a project you’re passionate about. If you’re still struggling to figure out what to do with your life, these 7 questions will help.

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Take care of yourself.

Your health is a gift. So do yourself a favor and start eating real food instead of the processed, fake junk. And get up and move. Sitting too much can literally kill you.

Never stop learning.

One of the “secrets” to living a life without regrets is to learn as much as you can about everything you can. You’ll find wisdom in the most unlikely of places if you’re just willing to look.

Go out of your way to help others.

Helping other people get what they want is the key to getting what you want. The world doesn’t revolve around you or me. Make the world a better place for others and the universe will reward you back.

Focus on the little things.

One of my favorite quotes is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who said:

The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.

Take small steps every day toward achieving your goals. These “little things” will compound into monumental achievements if you keep repeating them.

Believe that the path you’re on is the right one.

At the end of my favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmund Dantes (The Count) says one of the most memorable lines in literary history: “All human wisdom is contained in these two words: ‘wait’ and ‘hope.'”

If you think and hope you’re meant for something bigger, then you probably are.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Leuthard via flickr.com

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Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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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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