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7 Reasons Not To Give Up on Your Dreams

7 Reasons Not To Give Up on Your Dreams

Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up?  Maybe a fireman? A baker? A ballerina? Whether or not you still hold those childhood dreams of twirling about in a pink tutu or rushing off to extinguish a house fire, you probably have some sort of idea what you ultimately want to do with your life. BUT are you actually doing it? Are you working towards it? Or have you given up all hope on your dreams with the burdens of daily life pulling you down?

Pursuing your dreams comes along with many benefits!  Here are some reasons why you should not give up on your dreams:

1.  Failure.

This word seems counter-intuitive in reasons not to give up your dreams, but failure is more beneficial than you might think.  Most people don’t pursue their dreams for fear of failure.  Little do they know, this is one of the biggest ways we learn and grow!

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Many famous and successful Americans had to fail over and over again to achieve what they hoped to in life.  Abraham Lincoln failed at war, as a businessman, as a lawyer and even at politics at first.  He pushed on through and became president of the United States.  Thomas Edison’s teachers called him “stupid” and he was fired multiple times before “failing” 1000 times attempting to invent the lightbulb.  Michael Jordan was once cut from his high school basketball team.  He later said,

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.
I’ve lost almost 300 games
26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot … and missed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.”

If we can learn anything from these successful men, it would be to never give up on our dreams simply because of fear of failure.

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2. Persistence.

With that failure comes persistence.  Persistence is something that can only be learned through hardships. If you never fall down, you can’t learn how to get back up. Each time we pick ourselves back up and forge through, we get a little bit stronger and more capable of achieving our ultimate goals.

3.  It’s better to try and fail than to wonder what might have been.

Have you ever regretted trying something in your life? Perhaps it was trying out for the school play. Or asking that special someone out on a date. That feeling of wondering what could have been might still eat at you even years down the road.

How do you avoid that feeling of regret? By trying. You don’t have to do something huge, but sitting down and making a plan with small steps on how you will achieve your dreams will start you off in the right direction.  Little by little you will forge a path towards your goals.

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4.  Successes along the way.

If your dreams are big enough, you will have stepping stones of success along the way. Small achievements that can be celebrated and reviled in. These small victories can help push you through to the next goal and soon enough, your dreams will be realized.

5.  The pursuit.

Many valuable experiences are found in the pursuit. There is a reason the pursuit of happiness is in the constitution. Memories, friendships, skills, life lessons, love. Basically, life is what happens when we make our way towards a goal. Applying for that college which seems out of reach, we might meet our soulmate. In seeking for that promotion, we might meet a best friend or mentor. Signing up for that team, we might get to travel the world. In order to value the pursuit, we need to follow our dreams!

6.  Success is often just around the corner.

If only you knew how close you were! If only you knew what an impact would be for one more phone call, one more interview, and just one more late night working on your passions. Often we give up far too soon. We can’t see what the future holds for us, but we sure can keep striving towards our dreams.

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7.  Setting an example.

Finally, if you have children (or might have them some day), you will be setting a good example. Do we want our children to tell stories about how comfortable we were sitting on our couch watching sitcoms, or do we want to be remembered for the passion we had for life? Hopefully we can show the future generations what it means to chase after our dreams. Most importantly, in the words of Winston Churchill,

“Never Never Never give up.”

 

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Amanda DeWitt

Writer. Photographer. Instagrammer. Future Educator.

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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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