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20 Photos From The Past That Will Make You Glad You Live In The Present

20 Photos From The Past That Will Make You Glad You Live In The Present

People complain about a lot of things these days, and, sometimes, they have a valid point. Of course, there’s also the flip side to this, where people take issue with such minor annoyances that entire memes have been created to poke fun at their ridiculousness (i.e. “first world problems”). As always, history shows us why we should be thankful to live in the time that we do…

1. William Tecumseh Sherman Burns Atlanta, 1864.

general-sherman

    Back during the Civil War, folks didn’t know whether or not they’d still have a proper country to live in by the end of the conflict. If you lived in the South, where most of the fighting took place, you were in danger of having your entire city burned to the ground.

    2. Civil War Soldiers Bury Their Comrades Outside Fredricksburg, Virginia, 1864.

    burial

      There was many casualties during the Civil War, indeed, so many that our losses during World War II pale in comparison. Thanks to an archaic form of battlefield strategy (where regiments would line up and fire at each other) used at a time when rifles were becoming more common, many more men lost their lives than was necessary.

      3. Shady Figures Line An Alleyway in New York City, Late 19th Century.

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        No, this isn’t an image from the Great Depression. America’s “Gilded Age,” which occurred in the late 19th century, is relatively forgotten nowadays, but many important parallels can be made between that era and the one we live in now. That being said, our quality of life is much higher in the present.

        4. A Coal Worker Relaxes, New York City, Late 19th Century.

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          The Gilded Age was rife with cases of worker abuse. Coal miners were victimized frequently, leading to many strikes and the formation of unions during this era. If you complain about the minimum wage in the present, just know that it was a heck of a lot worse a little over a century ago.

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          5. Children In A Classroom, New York City, Late 19th Century.

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            In college we complained about the cramp rows, tiny desks, and terrible seats all of the time, but our plight is nothing compared to what these kids (and teachers) had to deal with.

            6. Italian Immigrant’s Home, New York City, Late 19th Century.

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              Being half-Italian, I’ve heard just about every story in regard to how treacherous of a journey it was to immigrate to the United States. And, even when you got through Ellis Island, you often lived like this for your first several years in the country. All things considered, today’s immigrants are a lot better off than our ancestors were.

              7. A Hotel, New York City, Late 19th Century.

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                Even the worst hotels I’ve been in seem like five star establishments compared to this place.

                8. Woman And Daughter Making Lace, New York City, 1910.

                making-lace

                  When things got bad back then, people often turned to making things in their own home and selling them out on the street. I doubt that’s something most people would think of doing these days.

                  9. Wall-Street Executive, 1913.

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                  wall-street-fat-cat

                    Wall Street used to take advantage of normal people back in the day, too. At least nowadays we are slightly more educated and have more ways of defending ourselves against their tomfoolery.

                    10. Kids Hold an American Flag During World War I, 1918.

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                      We’re not used to looking at the “distant” past in color, but if you search hard enough you’ll find that lots of these “autochrome” images exist. Back in 1918, these kids would have had to deal not only with their fathers going off to war, but economic hardship and the Spanish Flu. We have it pretty good compared to them.

                      11. Out For A Swim, United States, ~1915-1918.

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                        Aren’t you glad we no longer have to wear those frocks into the water? Yeah, me too.

                        12. Moonshine Distillery, United States, 1922.

                        Moonshine-Still

                          Prohibition must have been tough. I’m no alcoholic, but I can appreciate a little something now and then. These guys worked under the cover of darkness to provide Americans with the alcohol they so desperately wanted.

                          13. An X-Ray Machine, United States, ~1920

                          Machine-XRay-Old

                            Yeah, that thing looks about as likely to make the patient melt as it does properly image his bone fracture. I’ll take modern medicine, thank you very much. The year on this one was rather unclear, but based on the source of the image this is probably from the 1920s.

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                            14. A Poor Family During the Great Depression, Central Ohio, 1938.

                            poor-family

                              Poverty is still something that needs to be vanquished in the present, though at the very least we should be thankful that the poor no longer live like this family had to.

                              15. The Dust Bowl, Oklahoma, 1936.

                              dust-bowl

                                Along with the Great Depression, Americans in the ’30s had to deal with this little thing called “The Dust Bowl.” Lots of crops were lost due to the lack of rain, and many established farming families had to move west. Drought is still an issue today, though improved irrigation and aqueduct techniques have alleviated this somewhat.

                                16. Women On A Lunch Break, Iowa, 1943

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                                  During World War II, everyone had to work hard to ensure our victory. This included women, who often took on the roles of men who went off to fight in Europe or the Pacific. Back in 1943, victory was nowhere near a surefire thing, and the stress caused by knowing that must have been very great indeed.

                                  17. Duck And Cover, United States, ~1950s.

                                  Bomb Drill

                                    What are these kids doing, you ask? Why, they’re hiding under they’re desks to protect themselves from a nuclear bomb blast. Ludicrous, you say? Well sure, but the government made all schools perform these drills anyways. This is one of the many reasons to be glad that the Cold War is over.

                                    18. Pro-Vietnam War Demonstration, New York City, 1970.

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                                    Construction workersclash with police during apro-Vietnam Wardem

                                      Yes, there were pro-Vietnam War demonstrations, although they weren’t as popular as those of the “anti” variety. Even today, when many are divided in regard to waging war in the Middle East, we at least maintain enough composure to not create chaos on the streets every chance we get.

                                      19. Subway Graffiti, New York City, 1984.

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                                        I’ve ridden the subway a few times, and I’ve never seen anything like this. Thanks anti-graffiti government regulations!

                                        20. Civilians Topple Soviet Statue In Moscow, 1991

                                        RUSSIA COUP ANNIVERSARY

                                          It can be hard to believe that just 23 years ago, we were still trying to rid ourselves of the last vestiges of Soviet Communism. Of course, we have plenty of problems today, but at least that’s one big thing we no longer have to worry about!

                                          There you have it folks, we’ve reached the ’90s. I’d keep going, but then I’d have to blame everything represented in the photos on us and not a previous generation, so I think I’ll pass.

                                          Featured photo credit: World War II nurses/OnCall Team via flickr.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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