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5 Life Lessons I Learned From Dean Winchester

5 Life Lessons I Learned From Dean Winchester

Is it possible to say anything bad about Supernatural’s co-protagonist, Dean Winchester? I mean, from the very beginning of the show he’s done nothing but save people, hunt things, and look out for his oft-misguided brother Sam, all while putting everyone else’s needs before his own.

Despite a few mishaps and stumbles here and there, Dean really is a great role model (well, excluding his tendency to consume copious amounts of alcohol and spend a bit too much time with a certain adult magazine).

Below, you’ll find a list of just a few of the things that Dean Winchester has taught me about life (beware, spoilers abound)…

1. Always Look Out For Your Family.

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    At the end of the day, all you really have is your family, and thus it’s important not to cut your ties with them unless absolutely necessary. As much as you’d like to think you could do without them sometimes, especially when they’re acting up, it’s a fact that most of us need some sort of support system to keep persevering in our daily lives. That motivation, that drive to succeed, that helping hand when you need it most; it often comes from family. It’s incredibly hard to go it alone in this world, and we should all be thankful for those in our family who make our journeys just a bit easier.

    Dean grew up on the road, and often found himself in difficult circumstances. Without his dad and brother, he’d have been killed, or worse, long ago. Thus, Dean goes to extreme lengths to maintain his relations with what little family he has left.

    His brother therefore is everything to him, so much so that it becomes overbearing to Sam at times (which says more about Sam’s flaws than Dean’s, in my opinion).

    Dean looked out for Sam even when most sane people would turn the other cheek. Heck, he even gave up his soul to resurrect Sam, and later dealt with his brother’s addiction with demon blood in such an understanding manner (given the circumstances) that he probably deserves some kind of award. Later, when Castiel became a permanent fixture on the show, he too became a part of Dean’s family, and as such Dean has looked out for the prodigal angel ever since. Dean is just a supremely loyal guy, who’s insanely protective of the people he loves.

    While you shouldn’t let family members take advantage of you (more on this below), keeping close ties with them and looking out for their best interests is noble indeed.

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    2. Take Care Of Your Car.

    Is there anyone better at maintaining a car than Dean Winchester? It seems that all he needs is a few hours and some bicep flexing to get his 1967 Chevy Impala running as well as it did in…well…1967.

    I have absolutely zero sense when it comes to the mechanics of a car, so I admire Dean’s technical prowess. But this goes even deeper than the car. It’s about the symbolism of it all. We all have something we care about in this world more than most. Some may call it a hobby, some may call it an obsession, but you know it as the thing you love doing. For me it might be writing or video games. For Dean it’s his Impala. For my mom, it would be teaching. For you, it could be any number of things.

    As you see in the image above, Dean keeps his nearly fifty year old car looking brand spanking new, something of a miracle judging by how many times it has been wrecked in the show. If we all put that much elbow grease into the things we are obsessed with and care about the most, not only would we be happier, but the world would be a better place as well!

    To put it even more simply, if you love something as much as Dean loves his Impala, take the time to maintain it, to keep it in tip top shape. I know I’m getting abstract here, but if you like writing, that means keep writing!

    Or if you love cooking, keep coming up with new recipes!

    Dean is passionate about his car, and the time he puts into showing that passion is something we should all emulate when it comes to the things we love and are obsessed with.

    3. Being Brave Has Its Benefits.

    Who would have thought that Lucifer could be beaten by a mixture of bravery and brotherly love? Dean’s shown time and time again in Supernatural that he’s willing to risk his life and limb to take down the greatest of evils, whether it be Azazel, Lilith, Alastair, or the Devil himself. On that same note, were would any of us be if we didn’t have a bit of bravery? I know that I personally would be practically nowhere without the tiny amount of courage I’m able to conjure up now and then. Life is difficult, and it takes perseverance and a belief in oneself to make progress.

    For instance, I’m currently applying to a smattering of PhD programs. Frankly, it’s terrifying, putting myself out there to be judged by faceless entities in some of the world’s top universities. But I’m doing it because I know it’s the right thing for my future, no matter how much it hurts to expose myself to possible rejection.

    One thing I noticed while studying history is that great leaders usually aren’t the most intelligent, all-around awesome people in the room. Otherwise, Ben Franklin would have been our first President and Machiavelli’s republic would have worked out. No, the people who blaze a trail into the future are the ones willing to make tough, heat-of-the-moment decisions without knowing what the exact consequences might be.

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    Often times, all it takes is a bit of moxy and belief in oneself to accomplish things you thought were impossible. For instance, I thought I could never lecture or teach a class, but when the day finally came I walked through the door, took a deep breath, and just went with it.

    Lo and behold it all went fine! Dean is the epitome of that dive in and ask questions later mentality. It may not always be the smartest move on the chess board, but it’s often the one that results in the swiftest victory.

    While there are certainly benefits to thinking everything through, sometimes the situation calls for an empty mind and bold action.

    4. You Will Lose, What Matters Is How You Deal With It.

    As a way to get my creative juices flowing for this article, I’m listening to Bob Seger’s “Beautiful Loser,” which is one of many songs that could be called Dean Winchester’s theme.

    Indeed, it played at the beginning of season 6 when Dean was still trying to cope with the fact that his brother was “dead” by trying to live a normal suburban life (which to Dean was probably worse than the forty years he spent in hell). Of course, we can all relate just a bit to Mr. Seger’s song, as we all find ourselves down in the dumps at one point or another. What matters it how we react to such adversity. Do we cower, and let our failures consume us, or keep fighting and hope to win in the future? Obviously, the latter choice is the better option.

    A good example I have relates to the basketball player Kobe Bryant, a polarizing figure to say the least. He recently attained the NBA record for most shots missed overall, which sounds bad on paper. But let’s look at the facts. Despite the fact that Kobe failed to make thousands of shots, he didn’t let it bring him down. If he let a bad shooting night or two keep him from being who he is, it’s doubtful he would have won five championships.

    We all lose, and are losers, at some points. Even the best of us. We just need to remember that there’s always a new day tomorrow, that there’s always a chance to make up for past deficiencies, always another opportunity to throw the ball into the basket. You aren’t defined by your failures, but by how you choose to react to them.

    Dean’s probably lost more than any character on Supernatural. He blamed himself for his dad’s death, was unable to keep Sam from going dark side, and unknowingly started the chain of events that led to Lucifer’s release.

    On top of all that, he seems to get his face smashed in by people who are supposed to love him pretty frequently, as you can see by the image used above. Fast forward to season 10, and we’ve seen Dean have to deal fairly consistently with people (read: Sam) who don’t appreciate anything he’s done for them.

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    Dean epitomizes the fact that we humans lose, a lot. That doesn’t mean, however, that we have to sit on our laurels and let life beat us down.

    Despite dealing with the lowest of lows, Dean has always risen above in the end and done what’s right. It hasn’t always worked out, but I’d say he’s seen a net positive effect from his actions despite everything he’s been through.

    5. Sometimes You Have To Let It All Out.

    This season, Dean turned into a demon, which removed his humanity and allowed him to go crazy (it involved lots of bar fights and karaoke).

    This version of Dean was all-powerful and snarky to the max. He let everyone have it, especially Sam, who for the past several seasons has treated Dean like an annoyance. Obviously, there’s no way I know of to gain the powers of a demon, and so none of us can let it all out like Dean in the literal sense. But if you’re feeling wronged by somebody, something, or the world as a whole, it’s a great idea to let off some steam every so often.

    This can come in the form of an angry outburst, a lengthy crying session, a prolonged run, a few angry screams at the moon while on an empty beach. Whatever works for you to try and address the pain you’ve been feeling. This doesn’t have to occur very frequently, nor should it. It’s a way to address whatever problems you’ve been dealing with in life in a rapid manner, and come back with a renewed outlook on whatever you were dealing with.

    Sometimes everyone, even someone with as perfect of a personality as Dean Winchester, has to let out their demons, literally or figuratively.

    You can’t just bottle it up all of the time. Dean tried to do this, and it only sparked the series of events that led to him becoming a demon.

    In my opinion, Dean’s time on the dark side was good for him and his loved ones, as they got to hear just how much they’d been taking advantage of his loyalty and trust all these years.

    So there you have it. Dean isn’t just on Supernatural to be a pretty face. He’s there to represent the kind of flawed human with good intentions that we all aspire to be.

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    Though his brother Sam has shown flashes of this as well, Dean really is the one who exudes the kind of loyalty, care, and resiliency that I and others envy.

    After 9 seasons of looking out for literally everyone, I think that Dean’s time as a demon was a breath of fresh air for the character.

    Will this form of his return?

    I hope so, because Dean deserves more than two episodes to rail against all of the people who stepped on him for years.

    Are you a Dean Winchester fan? Or just a fan of Supernatural?

    No matter which, or even none, you can benefit from the lessons the character teaches us!

    Featured photo credit: Dean Winchester/sandrieliribeiro 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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