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8 Ways to Discover Yourself Without Traveling the World

8 Ways to Discover Yourself Without Traveling the World

Americans are funny. We tend to look at world history as something that happened before we came along and conquered the globe. Anyone who’s ever traveled the world knows it’s a great way to expand your horizons to new cultures and discover yourself.

Unfortunately not everyone can afford world travel or fit it into their busy schedule. Rather than try to convince you otherwise, here are alternative ways to discover yourself from the comfort of home.

1. Isolate Yourself

    The closest E! ever gets to religious programming…

    If you’ve never left your hometown, there’s a good chance you still have the same friends you grew up with. While it’s nice to have long-term friendships, you can’t truly discover yourself while staying around the same people. It becomes a crutch that keeps you from learning how to truly socialize. You never leave your comfort zone.

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    Take time to yourself and learn what truly makes you happy. Many of the things you do and buy may just be because your social circle is, not because it’s what you want. Giving yourself space gives you the opportunity to grow to your full potential.

    2. Create a Vision Board and Bucket List

      What do we always say is the most important thing?

      Thanks to The Secret and The Bucket List, vision boards and bucket lists have become buzz words. There’s a reason they’re so popular – the best way to visualize your future is to create something tangible. Make a list of what you want to accomplish before you die, and construct a collage to supplement it.

      Just the act of producing these items gives you insight into what’s really important to you. The hard part is following the path you laid out, but that’s what makes life fun.

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      3. Volunteer Your Time

        Testify, Ashton Kutcher…

        Arianna Huffington has been making the rounds lately promoting her new book Thrive. In it, she explains the third metric to success (the first two are money and power). One of the easiest ways to discover this third metric is by giving to others.

        Volunteering your time at a soup kitchen, shelter, clinic, church, or other charitable organization opens your eyes to reality. Your problems may seem insurmountable, but someone always has it worse. Giving to others reminds you of how much you truly have and inspires gratitude.

        4. Reconnect with Nature

          We’ve all been there…

          I was lucky enough to have grown up in the military. My dad was stationed in Europe, and I spent my childhood travelling the continent. We were poor, but my parents made travelling possible by camping out in nature. There’s no better way to refresh your body, mind, and spirit than getting away from society and immersing yourself in nature.

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          5. Talk to the Elderly

            Make it rain, grandpa…

            It’s far too common to see people shove their parents into a retirement home where they don’t have to deal with the ravages of age. We’re conditioned to leave the elderly alone, but they have valuable lessons to teach.

            Think of how many people you’ve met and lessons you’ve learned in life – the elderly have experienced that much more. They can give you an honest critique of who you are.

            6. Immerse Yourself in Different Cultures

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              Every city has neighborhoods where people of similar cultures live together. You don’t have to drive very far to find a Chinatown, Little Italy, etc. Visit these places to get a sample of the real deal. Talking to residents of these communities is a great way to learn the differences between your culture and thiers, and it may inspire you to explore.

              7. Meditate

                Silly pup, that’s not upward dog…

                Meditation is the definition of selfishness. In order to discover yourself, you need to look inward. Lie down on the floor, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. If you do this for at least 15 minutes every day, all the unimportant noise in your life fades away. Once you’ve stripped it all away, you’ll discover your true self.

                Featured photo credit: jingoba via pixabay.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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