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5 Ways to Live the Life of Your Dreams Right Now

5 Ways to Live the Life of Your Dreams Right Now

Are you living the life of your dreams right now?  If your answer is no, there are five things you could actually do, right now, that could help change your life immediately.

1. Get Conscious.

Take explicit not of what is working in your life and what isn’t working.  Are there areas of your life that you’re ignoring because they aren’t working, or because you feel like you have no choice other than to keep doing things the same old way?  Are you allowing time and space for what is working in your life to be nurtured, expanded, and grown or do you stuff it into 5 minute increments at the end of the day when no one else is looking?  Are you happy in your body? In your vocation? In your primary relationships? In your home? Why or why not?

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2. Stop being complacent and start being intentional.

Here’s a radical thought – you do not exist in reaction to your life.  Your life is not puppeteered by another person.  Every aspect of your life exists because on some level you made the choice to allow that aspect to show up.  If something negative happens what do you make that mean? That the universe is out to get you? That you deserved it? That you can never have what you want or get ahead? Or is it simply an obstacle that can be dealt with as you continue to move forward? How you think about things affects their impact on you.

Here’s another radical thought – you actually don’t have to suffer in order to have what you want.  You don’t have to compromise, be someone you’re not, or make choices out of alignment with your authentic expression.  You can make positive choices for yourself and your life that give you energy and make you happy.

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3. Really understand what it means to be at choice.

Life doesn’t happen to us, we consciously (or unconsciously) choose everything in our own life.  For example, when something awful happens to you do you blame someone else or decide you are a victim?  Or do you recognize that you actually get to choose how to respond to the situation?

4. Get clear about who you are.

Who are you? What is your authentic expression? What are you doing in the world?  What is uniquely yours to offer to the world? If you don’t know who you are and what you want then by golly it’s no surprise that you’re not living a life of your dreams.

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5. Lean into your Authenticity.

Once you get clear on what you are REALLY doing here start to live into it.  Maybe your unique purpose is to show the world that true love is possible, or that the paradigm of corporations could change, or that creativity is the root of happiness.  Whatever your purpose is, when you actually begin to align your life with that purpose your life will get easier.

Easier, you say?  Yes, easier. Because being yourself is life-giving.  Because being in touch with your unique purpose means decision-making gets easier – every choice becomes about what brings you closer to living your purpose and what draws you away from your purpose.  Your decisions become less influenced by other people’s opinions, how much money you can acquire, and what you can buy to numb yourself out because you hate your life.  You start to take inspired action.  In addition to ease you start to experience joy and fulfillment.  Funny how those can fit together (smile).

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If you are serious about beginning to live the life of your dreams right now, take some time to sit with and answer the following questions:  Who am I? What is my unique purpose? What makes me jump out of bed in the morning?  Conduct a moral inventory – what is out of alignment in your life? Where do compromise who you are in order to make other people comfortable or because you think you have to?  Get some support from a life or business coach to help you articulate who you are and what you want.  Then start living your dream life!

Featured photo credit: Christie via flickr.com

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Emma Churchman

Emma is a Creative Business Consultant, and Leadership Coach & Trainer

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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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