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Last Updated on March 5, 2020

How to Start a New Life Without Sacrificing Everything You Have

How to Start a New Life Without Sacrificing Everything You Have

Do you ever wish that you could just hit the pause button on life and move on to a new chapter without any negative repercussions?

Unfortunately, time is linear. On the other hand, time is a social construct. In other words, your life’s timeline is yours to manage, and you shouldn’t compare your goals and achievements to those of others.

Taking a long, hard look at your life to get to the root of the change you would like to see will benefit you. Focusing on what you would change in your life might help you answer what you should pursue in the near future.

So, how to start a new life?

The great news is that you don’t have to pull a Madonna and completely reinvent yourself every time you are ready for a change.

By implementing these 12 small yet impactful changes outlined below, you can start a new life without being extra about it.

1. Always Learn Something New

Perhaps you have achieved success in your career — only to find you want more.

If you feel stagnant in what you are doing for work or are bored with your day-to-day, expand your options.

One way to make yourself more competitive in various career fields is pursuing further education. Most of us don’t have the bandwidth to invest in attending classes on a college campus.

Luckily, online universities are nationally recognized and more affordable than traditional in-classroom schooling. Consider signing up for some asynchronous online classes that fit your work schedule so you don’t have to interrupt your life to get ahead.[1]

2. Take Steps to Face Your Fears

It is amazing how many of our decisions are based on fear. We fail to take risks, avoid conversations, and miss opportunities because we are afraid of the outcomes.

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Here’s the deal:

Taking risks, within reason, can change your life overnight. If you have had your eye on the cutie at your local coffee shop, take a shot and ask them out for a drink. The worst that can happen to you is a slightly bruised ego. Even if they are already in a relationship or simply uninterested, your flattery may have made their day.

Don’t go through life with too many regrets. Going back to that coffee shop after being turned down is just another opportunity to face your fears.

3. Maintain a Meaningful Social Circle

Most of us have heard the timeless adage “you are as good as the company you keep.” Expanding your horizons to include new and interesting people might be the spice in life you were looking for.

Take a holistic view of your friends, family and professional relationships. Make a mental checklist of the relationships that most positively affect you and why. Take that checklist with you the next time to go to a social event. Try to strike up a conversation with new and interesting people that check those boxes.

While you’re out being a social butterfly, don’t forget where this exercise started. Be sure to not leave your old, longtime friends in the dust while fostering new friendships and relationships. You don’t want to be “that guy” in your friend circle.

4. Find Healthy Ways to Cope With Anxiety

If you experience excessive anxiety in your daily life, you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. They affect 40 million people over the age of 18 every year, which represents 18.1 percent of the U.S. population. [2]

Finding healthy ways to cope with anxiety has the ability to turn your world upside down. Many people have looked toward CBD to help ease and manage anxiety. It can be used to target anxiety as it arises without the need to take daily medication.[3]

CBD is not commonly prescribed by mental health professionals — at least not yet anyway. Some have compared it to having a glass of red wine after a long day. However, it is important to practice a sense of heightened self-awareness and recognize if you are negatively self-medicating with overconsumption.

Here’s the kicker:

Anything you do to relax can be done in excess: exercise, watching Netflix, drinking, or shopping. Be sure to choose an activity that works to relieve your anxiety in a manner that is healthy and can done in moderation.

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5. Become Part of a Movement

You know all the hours you spend scrolling through social media idolizing other people’s lives? Well, they could be better spent.

As humans, we naturally seek out a connection with others and desire to feel as if we are needed. Finding a cause to get behind can help you to feel as if you are contributing to the common good. Whether it is a social justice issue or an environmental movement, there are many different opportunities to focus your time and energy to help you feel needed.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be protesting every weekend to feel as if you are creating change. Making small changes in your life can make a big impact.

Using your consumer power to only support businesses who have sustainability at the forefront of their business practices is a powerful choice. It is small actions like this that have caused big businesses to reevaluate how they conduct business. Feel empowered by spending your dollars wisely.[4]

6. Take Ownership

It is all too easy to move through life as a passive passenger. The good news is that you don’t have to give up anything in your life to regain control over it.

Take ownership over your life by taking control of a particular aspect of your life. It could be as simple as no longer being a public transport passenger and instead, using your own body’s physical power to get you to your destination.

Knowing that you can depend on yourself to make your morning commute is incredibly empowering. Free yourself of passivity and become the captain of your own ship.

7. Pay Attention to Your Dreams

If you feel unfulfilled in your life but aren’t sure why, try tapping into the esoteric side of life. Diving into your subconscious can be liberating and freeing if you allow yourself the mental space to do it.

Not everyone remembers their dreams, but you can train your brain by keeping a dream journal next to your bed. Dreams can reveal unconscious hopes and fears that we either ignore or prefer to be unburdened with during our waking lives.

Understanding what your dreams mean is like learning a new language — requiring you to pay attention to clues, signs, and symbols. [5]

If you are the type of person to remember having recurring dreams, pay attention! Your subconscious is sending you a message. However, here’s the catch:

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Dreams are irrational and a product of our psyche we can never truly comprehend. Don’t make any rash life decisions because a little blue man in your dream told you so.

8. Unplug to Tap Into Creativity

What are you reading this on right now? Are you on your phone or your laptop? Well, after you’ve finished reading through how to start your new life, unplug it.

Being tuned into technology all the time creates mental fatigue — leaving little energy for creative processes. By spending time in nature the prefrontal cortex of the brain is able to rest. [6]

Find out what inspires you in life and use it to take the new life that you are seeking into new dimensions. Your muse may be found in unlikely places. Be open to saying “yes” more often to allow inspiration into your life.

9. Challenge Comfort Zones

If you are attempting to step away from a life of stagnation, you have to step out of your comfort zone. But don’t strap into that bungee cord harness quite yet. You don’t need to unreasonably take elevated risks that put certain aspects of your life at stake.

Challenging your comfort zones are meant to empower you to see what you are capable of achieving when put to the test. It is understandable to want to relax in the comfort zone after working so hard to get there, but there comes a time when you have to level up.

Set your sights on the next attainable dream and go for it. If you’ve always wanted to run a marathon, set up a strenuous training schedule to get you there. Learn how to push through the pain and the mental blocks that have kept you from being your own champion.

Dig within yourself, figure out where to set your hard ceiling, and push towards reaching your goals to live your best life — you deserve it.

10. Practice Daily Mindfulness

If you want to turn your whole world upside down, integrate a mindfulness practice into your daily routine. Meditation, yoga, journaling, or breath work do not require anything from you besides a commitment to being in the present moment.

You may be rereading the title of this article because you assume these words are convincing you to become a monk and take a vow of silence. You don’t have to go that hardcore with your mindfulness practice.

Meditation is called a practice because it takes time to become comfortable with sitting still and focusing for a long period of time. However, you will be happy to learn that the effects of meditation are immediate. Just taking five intentional deep breaths at your desk during a stressful day will help to lower your blood pressure and aid in regaining your mental focus and clarity to get you through your day.

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11. Assess Your Budget

Money is the root of all evil — but it is also the driving force behind why we wake up and go to work each day. The less you spend, the less you work. Doesn’t that sound like a better way to live life?

To be able to pursue a path in life that allows you to feel more fulfilled and happy, you need to know where your financial boundaries are. If the new life you picture takes place on a beach, you do not need to sell your family heirlooms to get there. Instead, set yourself up with a budget and a plan so you can save and make your dreams a reality.

12. Manifest Goodness

If you are considering starting a new life or recreating how you project yourself to the world, you need to know what you want the new version to look like.

Does your new life have big financial goals, or is it your intention to move away from focusing on your career to spend more time with your family?

Creating a vision board is one way to help you to manifest what goodness you want in your life. Flipping through magazines and newspapers to snip out people, places, and items that help to define your dreams can be an eye-opening experience. Certain words you previously did not associate with yourself may be more appealing than before.

Sounds silly? It’s not. Consider creating them with friends or family members to see if their perception of you holds any weight in your plans for the future. Friends and family members can act as a mirror for ourselves at times. Seeing them surprised by your interest in different things may cause you to either think twice about that decision or pursue it with more vigor.

Be sure to revisit the board often to remind yourself of what you are working towards. It is normal for projections to change over time. There is no harm in creating a new vision board every year to refocus and fine-tune your intentions as you evolve as a person.

Remember, It’s Your Life!

When looking at the big picture of what is your life, note what you dislike, make a plan to change it, and move forward with decisive action.

You’ve only got one chance to live life on your terms (that we know of, at least). You have everything you need to achieve the level of success you hope to have in this life — you just have to reach out and grab it!

More Tips about Living Your Best Life

Featured photo credit: Roksolana Zasiadko via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Bradley University: How Do Online Classes Work?
[2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Facts & Statistics
[3] CBD Choice: Strategies for Managing Anxiety
[4] University of California Riverside: Major Corporations’ Growing Interest in Sustainable Product Design
[5] Tuft and Needle: What Do Your Dreams Mean–What Is Dream Interpretation?
[6] AGI Training: How to Improve Creativity by 50%

More by this author

Dan Matthews, CPRP

A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

15 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Worrying About Everything How to Be More Positive: 15 Habits to Take Up How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence 17 Types of Meditation (Techniques and Basics) to Practice Mindfulness How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

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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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