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Embrace the New

Embrace the New

When I don’t have strong clarity about what I want to experience next in my life, I like to explore something new. I know that I want to keep growing, so I seek out new growth experiences, new places, new people. Anything new.

This default decision to embrace the new has been a powerful heuristic in guiding my life path. I find myself leaning into many experiences for the simple reason that they’re new. If I receive an invitation to try something I’ve never tried before, I tend to say yes fairly often. If I’m not sure, I nudge myself towards the affirmative. I figure that exploring something new is generally better than doing nothing. New input means learning, and I love to learn.

Sometimes I need to return to my comfort zone to catch my breath. Too much newness can feel a little overwhelming at times, so when I feel that way, I take some downtime for personal renewal. A long meditation, a solo walk at night, a journaling session, or writing a new article are restorative experiences for me.

Then when I feel ready to branch out again, I put out some fresh invitations and/or say yes to more invitations to go explore. I lean into the new. The more I do this, the more my comfort zone expands, and the more I feel capable of saying yes to experiences that I once resisted.

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Oslo

Last weekend I had a wonderful time at the Morten Hake Summit in Oslo, Norway. The summit went very well, and there’s already talk about doing another one next year.

The days before and after the summit have been a whirlwind of social activity — an 8-hour mastermind session with the other speakers, several video interviews (some of them spontaneous), nights out, parties, intimate conversations, delightful cuddle sessions, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, brainstorming new business ideas, and inspirations galore. I must have had well beyond a hundred hugs while I’ve been here, and I directly encouraged hundreds more hugs between others.

Initially I flew to Oslo with a one-way ticket. This is the second time I’ve flown to Europe this year without a return ticket booked in advance, and it’s my fourth visit to this continent since 2011.Up until 2009 I had never been outside the USA. Embracing the new has been a helpful heuristic to guide me in saying yes to travel experiences. Lately this has taken the form of doing more open-ended travel, i.e. flying somewhere without knowing where I’ll go next or when I’ll return home.

While I desire to explore other parts of the world too, lately I’ve been drawn to explore Europe. I’ve been to five countries here so far, and soon I’ll land in my sixth European country — Romania. My flight to Bucharest leaves tomorrow morning.

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Bucharest

My friend Zan Perrion likes to say, “Accept all invitations.” That’s another growth-oriented heuristic, and it nicely overlaps with “Embrace the new.” Zan invited me to come stay with him in Casa Amorata after Oslo, so in alignment with both of those heuristics, I gratefully accepted. Zan and I have been friends for several years, and like many others who know him, I love the energy that he and his friends create together — the energy of love, happiness, lightness, and beauty.

I’ve never been to Eastern Europe, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’m not sure how long I’ll stay, but I already have some interesting invitations coming through for Bucharest. Once again, I bought a one-way ticket. I have no doubt that this trip will be filled with interesting growth experience. The newness of it pretty much guarantees that.

After Bucharest I may go somewhere else, or I may return to Las Vegas. I trust my intuition to make those decisions.

Familiar Unfamiliarity

As I keep leaning into new experiences, I find that the unfamiliar starts to feel increasingly familiar. Getting my bearings in new places, making new local friends, calibrating to new social environments, and learning the nuances of other cultures becomes less uncomfortable after a while. The surprises are still there, but paradoxically they’re becoming familiar surprises.

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The more I embrace the new, the more I feel at home on a path of growth and change. Going outside my comfort zone ceases to feel scary and stressful, and instead it becomes fun, stimulating, empowering, and even playful. I become comfortable in those spaces of awkwardness, confusion, and mistakes, knowing that whatever happens, I can deal with it and learn from it.

When I embrace the new, I make plenty of mistakes. I spend more time in that uncalibrated beginner phase, not really knowing what I’m doing but eager to learn. I love this phase because it’s where I learn and grow the fastest. Even simple gains, like learning to navigate a new public transportation system, feel like significant accomplishments. I love reaching the point where a once unfamiliar city feels like a place I can call home, or a previously undeveloped skill can be utilized with reasonable competence.

Embrace the New

When life begins to feel stale, embrace the new. When you’re not sure what you want, embrace the new. When you feel stuck in your job or your relationship, embrace the new.

This is not an easy path, so if you prefer to play it safe and stick with your current comfort zone, then don’t use this heuristic. But if you want to learn, grow, and become smarter, then embracing the new can serve as a powerful way to get unstuck and move forward.

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Don’t overthink this. Embrace the new isn’t rocket science, unless you want to visit a new planet. This is a simple suggestion to favor invitations (and to issue invitations) to explore the untried, the untested, and the unknown.

Much of the time you can still keep the old. Use your comfort zone as a home base. Return to it when you need a break from exploration. But eventually you may find that the zone of exploration becomes your new comfort zone. You may begin to feel at home on the road of growth and change, instead of only feeling comfortable at your favorite inn.

Embrace the New | Steve Pavlina

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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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