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5 Ways to Be a Real Life Superhero

5 Ways to Be a Real Life Superhero

When I was seven years old, I got the greatest Christmas gift ever. As I tore away the crisp, Santa-Claus-decorated paper, it revealed the most perfect present: a Batman costume, complete with belt and shoes. I ran, I jumped, I rolled, I climbed, I hid and I saved everyone in the house from all the dangers that the holiday season could bring. It was one of the best days of my life.

Ever since that day, I’ve been fixated on comic books and superheroes, their place as Modern Mythology, and all the ideals they bring: saving lives, fighting crime and making the world a better place.

As an adult, I realize I actually have the power to be a superhero. I may not be able to fly, grow claws or regenerate my limbs — but I can make a difference to someone’s life.

We all have the power to be a superhero to someone, even if we don’t have the spandex to go with it. Here are five ways you can be a real life superhero:

1. Use the Things You Have to Help Someone Without Them

Want to be a true superhero? This is the most important step. At its foundation, a superhero uses the things that they have to help those who don’t have them.

Batman used his supreme wealth to keep the citizens of Gotham safe. The Green Lantern uses his immense powers to save multiple universes on a daily basis, and Spiderman uses his web-slinging awesomeness to keep the people of New York safe.

Think about what it is that you can give that nobody else can.

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It could be your support, time, mentorship, a small gift or a thank-you card. Sometimes, even just the most innocuous social media message can bring someone out of the darkness and into the light.

It’s something that you have to give that can help another.

Stuck? Why not look at Kickstarter for ideas — or just simply pay someone a compliment?

2. Keep Yourself Healthy

You can’t be a superhero and not take at least take some care of your body. Unless you’re like Bruce Banner, and can transform into Lou Ferrigno when you spill the table salt, it’s a good idea to invest in your body.

Be proactive in looking after your body, and helping people will become easier. You will have clarity of mind, energy to accomplish any task and the strength to move whatever obstacles get in your way. It also means you look completely bad-ass if the chance to wear spandex ever comes around.

You don’t need to look like Thor, or have the abdominals of Wonder Woman to be a superhero for somebody. But investing in a gym membership or a pair of running shoes could be the difference between you being able to help someone or not.

Want to get in shape like a real superhero? Check out the Nerd Fitness Blog.

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3. Pick Your Fight

Every superhero has a battle. Something that drives them to be the person they are. That gives them not just a want to help people, but a reason why.

Batman and Spiderman both fought to protect other people’s families from the injustices that happened to their own. Captain America fought to be the soldier he was told he would never be and Charles Xavier fought for his belief in the mutant race.

What’s your fight?

It could be anything from blogging on the failures of the education system, or working towards helping reduce the number of homeless veterans on the street. The fight does not need to be big, but it needs to be powerful. It needs to drive you to get out of bed, do something and help people, even if it’s as niche as helping people weed their gardens effectively.

Can’t think? Try to picture what it is you feel is wrong with the world, or your hobby or your profession. When you find something that lights a fire in you, you’ve found your fight.

Then, try to sum it up in five words.

“Protect Gotham City from Evil,” for example.

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3. Make Someone’s Day

Real life superheroes go out of their way to improve the lives of all the people they encounter. They want to do whatever it is they can to turn someone’s bad day into a good one.

Thankfully, most bad days in the real world don’t involve someone trying to blow up the city, hold you hostage on a boat or creating a mutant army to band together and eradicate your species, so don’t worry about that.

But what small gesture, piece of help or amount of time can you give to someone to improve their lives?

You can’t make everyone’s day, every day of the week, but try to go out of your way to absolutely make someone’s day every once in a while. The Avengers will thank you for it.

4. Stay Optimistic

Superheroes can be labeled many things, but pessimistic isn’t one of them. They retain a clear sense of optimism and a will to succeed regardless of whatever is thrown their way. Even if there are no odds stacked in their favor.

Even when there were only 10 mutants left on the face of the Earth, Charles Xavier never indulged the thought of extinction. Through the fears, the doubts and unevenly stacked armies, he kept his faith in his beliefs and what he was trying to achieve.

Your optimism, hopes and beliefs will be challenged, but stay true to your course. Being as optimistic as possible will not only help you see it out to the end, but give strength to those around you.

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5. Don’t Do It for the Credit

Superheroes wear masks, not only for the protection of the people around them, but for the protection of themselves. They do not seek credit, fame or glory for their acts. They just want to get up, save the world and forget it ever happened.

Their fight transcends credit and accolades, but comes from deep within. Batman never hangs around for press interviews and Spiderman has swung off in to the distance before the first thank you has even been uttered.

The world loves Spiderman, but Peter Parker is nothing more to New Yorkers than an orphan living in a one-person bedsit. For the person behind the mask, there is nothing more than a sense of satisfaction for helping someone.

No matter what it is you do — whether it’s carrying someone’s shopping, or painting their house — never go into it with the motivation of, “What’s in it for me?” Think of it in terms of, “What’s in it for them?”

Now, which superhero will you be?

Featured photo credit: Eneas 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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