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21 Life Lessons Even Non-Christians Can Learn From Jesus

21 Life Lessons Even Non-Christians Can Learn From Jesus

Aside from being the Savior for Christians and even a prophet for Muslims, Jesus was a revolutionary figure who challenged traditions, religion, and beliefs. He was one of the first thought-leaders who inspired the world. Whether you are a Christian or not, here are 21 life lessons you can learn from Jesus:

1. Be clear with what you want.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” — Matthew 7:7-8

Jesus knew that clarity is one of the secrets to success. Be deliberate in living your life. Be clear with what you want to achieve. Know what to ask for and how to ask for it.

2. When you find “it,” take the leap.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” — Matthew 13:44-46

When you finally find your life’s purpose, your mission, or your own dream, take a chance and take a leap in faith. You may or may not make it immediately, but you will definitely make it. The joy and fulfillment are also in the pursuit. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Jump into your purpose!

3. Be forbearing and love those who criticize you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” — Matthew 5:38-39

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?” — Matthew 5:44-47

When we are being pushed, it’s more natural for us to push back. It’s difficult not to fight back. But, when we pull them closer to us instead of pushing them back, imagine the surprise. There would also be less conflict. Besides, it’s more rewarding to love those who cannot love us back. Always respond with love.

4. Always go beyond what is required.

“If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” — Matthew 5:40-42

Always go the extra mile—in your career, in your business, in your relationships, in your service, in loving others, and in everything you do. Pursue excellence in all your undertakings.

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5. Keep your promises and be careful with what you say.

“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’” — Matthew: 5:37

“By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” — Matthew 12:37

There’s an old proverb saying, “Before you speak once, think twice.” Your words have power over your life and the life of others. Always be truthful in what you say and be trustworthy with your promises. When in doubt with what to say, say words of love.

6. How you look at others is a reflection of how you look at yourself.

“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” — Matthew 7:1-2

If you measure others’ success based on their finances, chances are that’s also how you measure your own success. If you measure their success based on their job titles, chances are that’s also how you measure your own success. Do you need to change the measure you use?

7. Follow the Golden Rule.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” — Matthew 7:12

This is all the life lessons from Jesus combined. In fact, this is probably Jesus’s most popular lesson for Christians and non-Christians alike. What do you want others to do to you and for you? Do the same to them and for them. No matter what you believe in, you can never go wrong with the Golden Rule.

8. Forgive others… countless times if you need to.

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” — Matthew 6:14-15

“Then Peter approaching asked him, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.’” — Matthew 18:21-22

Unforgiveness weighs down not only the unforgiven person, but also the person not giving his or her forgiveness. Set others free by forgiving them and, ultimately, you set yourself free. Also, just like how you make the same mistakes over and over again, allow others the same room to make the same mistakes. Besides, nobody is perfect, right?

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9. You cannot please everyone. Move on.

“Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.” — Matthew 10:14

“Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, ‘Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?’ And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.” — Matthew 13:54-58

No matter what you do or no matter how hard you try, you cannot please everyone. Not everyone will believe in you. In fact, the people closest to you may also be the people who do not believe in you the most as well. Move on and spend your best energy and your best effort for people who do. It might hurt at first, but that’s better than slowly letting yourself and your dreams die.

10. Prove your worth through your works, not your words.

“Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” — Matthew 7:17-20

We often tell others that we are more than they think we are. We live in a results-based world. Instead of just saying that we are more, let us be more, take action, and deliver results. That will be more than enough proof to them. Don’t just say good things. Do good things. Don’t just declare your big dreams. Take action and make them a reality.

11. Take the road less travelled.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” — Matthew 7:13-14

The majority’s decision is not always the right decision. Vox populi, vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God) is not always true. Not everyone is willing to go the extra mile to serve others. Not all companies are willing to give the best service and the best experience to their customers. Most of the time, doing the right things mean going against the flow and doing what’s not popular. If you are taking the road less travelled, you must be on the right road.

12. Whatever you are feeling, spend some time in isolation.

“When Jesus heard of John’s execution, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.” — Matthew 14:12

“After the feeding of the multitude and dismissing the crowd, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.” — Matthew 14:23

No matter how you are feeling, whether you are feeling anxious or accomplished, always find time to connect with yourself. No amount of other people’s encouragement can lift you up if you keep on bringing yourself down. Also, spend time alone to find the deepest desires of your heart — unadulterated by other people’s agenda. In the deepest, unadulterated desires of your heart lies your purpose and your mission.

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13. Be persistent.

“Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.” — Luke 11:5-8

When you are persistent, not only do you shake other people and even the heavens up. You also shake yourself up by becoming clearer with what you really want. Keep moving forward no matter how many times you have stumbled or been rejected.

14. Pruning hurts, but it is important to your growth.

“He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” — John 15:2

Why spend time on things and habits that do not deliver results or make you grow? Taking away some habits like watching TV and even some unhealthy relationships hurts a lot. But, it is required if we want to achieve our dreams and if we want to grow. Most importantly, pruning is required if we want to bear more fruit in our lives. Let go of the things and even people that do not bring you closer to your dreams.

15. If you want to give genuinely, give in secret.

“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” — Matthew 6:1-4

A test of genuine giving is when you give without expecting any praise or recognition in return. Also, you can only feel the deep joy in giving when you give without anyone knowing. Give in secret and give anonymously. You will grow in generosity and gratitude that way.

16. Wherever you spend your money on, you value.

“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” — Matthew 6:21

When you spend your money on charity, you think more about helping others and making a difference. When you spend your money on your education, you think about your growth and personal development. When you spend your money with your loved ones, you think more about them and spending time with them. Be careful where you spend your money. Money has value for a reason. Spend it on things you deeply value.

17. Use it or lose it.

“For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” — Matthew 25:29

What is your passion? What is your God-given talent? Always sharpen the saw and use what you have been given. If you don’t, you will grow rusty and you might eventually lose it. If you are good at writing, write. If you are good at numbers, keep computing and analyzing. Don’t rob the world of the one thing that only you can do.

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18. Stop worrying and live for today.

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” — Matthew 6:25-27,34

Yes, saving for the rainy days (and retirement) is very important. But, the present is all we truly have. Learn how to be more present by letting go of your worries and anxieties for tomorrow. Just do your best this very day and trust that tomorrow will take care of itself. Live your life one day at a time.

19. If you want to be great, serve.

“The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” — Matthew 23:11-12

Think about the great people who lived like Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa, and Gandhi. They are forever immortalized because they lived their lives in service to others and to what they believe in. Also, the greatest companies in the world like Apple are the ones that serve the most through their products. The more you serve, the greater you will be.

20. Let go of differences in denominations, religions, and beliefs.

“John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.’ Jesus replied, ‘Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.’” — Mark 9:38-40

This is simply true,

21. At the end of the day, it’s all about love.

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” — Matthew 22:36-40

Jesus summarized all 613 commandments in the Old Testament into two. Jesus knew that, at the end of the day, all that matters is love. Love goes beyond scriptures, religion, race, and beliefs. Why trouble ourselves with our differences? At the center of it all is love. Even scripture says, “God is love.” Just like the Golden Rule, you can never go wrong with love. Let love be at the center of your thoughts, your words, your dreams and aspirations, your actions, and your whole life.

Bonus lesson:

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” — John 15:13

Are there people in your life you love so much that you are willing to die for them? When there is someone you love more than yourself, it’s the best feeling in the world.

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Carlo Cruz

Writer and Artist

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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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