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5 Hazardous Habits That Kill Your Life’s Dream

5 Hazardous Habits That Kill Your Life’s Dream

“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.”  ― Langston Hughes

The aspiration to achieve our dreams some day keeps us going even during the hopeless hours of life. Yes, we all know this but still we keep on piling habits into our daily life, that unknowingly become the killer of our own Life’s Dream. These habits and behavior patterns become so involved within our personalities that they become our inherent traits, making us weak and fragile, always providing us with an excuse to let go of our dreams. So read on to know these five hazardous habits. If you can feel connected with the given characteristics, hold on and beware, you totally need to get out of these vicious habit that is killing your Life’s Dream:

1. Fear of the unknown

Characteristics: Such a person is always surrounded by various kinds of fears, i.e. fear of rejection, fear of separation or loss, humiliation and even fear of extinction. These fears are always in his mind which prevent him from taking certain steps towards his dreams, from taking risks and he is always enjoying his own comfort zone.

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Reason: Fear of the unknown is a mind condition which is conditioned from our childhood. For example, you have been constantly told in childhood to “not to go outside otherwise a white-bearded man will take you with him.” It sounds funny now but as a kid we were really scared of such things. So slowly and slowly our mind starts fearing things which earlier were fun like screaming for joy, dancing ridiculously or loving someone. We are afraid of being ridiculed or being termed crazy by normal society. And this fear becomes our inseparable attribute that sometimes we feel frightened to cross the boundaries in our banal life. We dare not to start anything afresh, killing our dreams to rest.

2. Addiction of pain

Characteristics: Such a pain addict no longer follows his heart’s voice, the inner conscious. He lives just to perform certain social responsibilities but his inner joy is no more. Everything around him is fake and useless, including human emotions. His dreams have no meaning and are mere fantasies.

Reason: The suffering caused by our daily stressful and busy life enhances the pain in our body, which we mostly try to resist but sometimes we become so prone to distress in our life that we start dwelling in our own pain delightfully. We start rejoicing in the sympathy arising from our pain. In a way we become addicts to pain that generates sympathy for us either from others or from ourselves. This addiction can become so hazardous that it can lead us to total hopelessness or dismal for life.

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3. Procrastination

Characteristics: Such a person is always waiting for a convenient time to fulfill his dreams. He is never certain of the present time and delays his dreams and goals for the future. He is the one always waiting for the right opportunity rather than creating one.

Reason: Procrastination has become a part of everyday life now. We ward off certain things for tomorrow, but with time procrastination can become second nature. We keep on delaying our hopes and dreams for the future as if we are certain that tomorrow would be a better time in spite of the fact that we are not even certain of our existence in the coming moment. This is because we are not confident enough in the present moment (sometimes it is due to laziness). We feel tired, exhausted or we might be looking for perfection. But whatever the reason may be, procrastination is avoiding our present problems and saving them for our future life.

4. Living with the Ego

(Note: please don’t confuse ego with pride.)

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Characteristics: Such a person is living with a false identity of himself. He connects his possessions, whether tangible or intangible, as his own self. For example, his latest smart phone, his collection of high-end clothes and accessories, his relationship with his loved ones etc… Such a person feels hopeless even in the thought of losing his possessions as these are his extended self and without which he is no more, taking him further away from his life’s dreams.

Reason: With the start of our lives we acquire this thing called ego. At first we connect our identity with our toys, this is my toy and if that got broken we would start crying because we perceived that toy as our extended self. And with time this ego started widening the boundaries of our perceived self not only in objects but also in relationships, knowledge and our physical appearances. And the moment someone tries to attack our egos we become aggressive, which is also the cause of various arguments (because our opinions are our perceived self and we can never be wrong). For some people this ego takes a larger-than-life form. As these people put their dreams on a backseat even if they are very well aware that the present moment is not what they expected out of life, they live in the pain of not fulfilling their dreams instead of following them. These people foresee themselves as weak and sometimes quit their current situation, thus moving miles away from their dreams.

5. Dwelling in the past

Characteristics: Such a person in always living his past. He is never in the present moment. His absent-mindedness is his starkest personality trait. He is always busy thinking about something that happened before and how he reacted or someone else thought about what he said to him.

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Reason: We all have certain conversations in our mind about past events but when it becomes so frequent that we are always engrossed in thoughts about why he said that, why I reacted like that or why I should have done this over that, then you are totally dwelling in your past. You are more concerned with what already happened and this could take you away from the present moment. Dwelling in the past moments, good moments or bad, frequently can be hazardous for your future dreams as it will not spare any time to make an action plan for your future endeavors. Your aspirations and dreams depend on your action plans that need to be made in the present not on the past moments.

The above five behavior patterns or habits are present in either smaller or bigger form in all of us. And the first step to bring such hazardous habits under control is through awareness in ourselves. The moment we become aware of them and effects in our life, we consciously become free of their ill effects. So pursue your dreams with full awareness and let success befall your life with joy.

Featured photo credit: ‘Dandelion wish’ courtesy John Liu 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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