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4 Agreements That Will Change Your Life

4 Agreements That Will Change Your Life

Are you interested in changing your life? Are you craving more love and happiness? Well, there’s a ton of advice out there on how to make that happen. There is one book, though, that really hit home for me, and I want to share what I’ve learned with the hopes of spreading the love and happiness to more people around the world. The following agreements are based on the brilliant and inspiring book The Four Agreements, written by Don Miguel Ruiz. The idea is that if you commit to these four specific agreements, you will change your life and be a happier, more loving human being.

I have been doing my best to follow these agreements, and I can definitely say it’s working.The message in this book helped me reach a higher consciousness and bring more love and happiness into my life — I think it can do the same for you.

So without further ado, if you are ready to change your life and bring more love and happiness your way, repeat after me:

1. I am impeccable with my word.

impeccableword

    Gossip. Trash-talk. Slander. Chitchat. Rumors. Scuttlebutt. (Yes, that’s a real word!) You know what I’m talking about. If you’ve been through middle school, chances are you’ve been both a participant in and a victim of gossip. I’m willing to bet that almost everyone has spoken poorly about someone else at some point in their lives. If you work in an office setting, you can be sure it’s filled with whispers about co-workers. Here’s the thing: Even if you think you’ve never said a negative thing about someone else, it’s likely true that you’ve said a nasty thing about yourself. And that’s just as bad.

    Occasionally, thoughts pop into our minds that we don’t control. (We can work on that, but that’s for another article.) Thinking something, though, is truly different from saying it aloud. Committing a thought to word brings the thought to life. It makes it alive and real. When you use your words to speak poorly about someone else, including yourself, you are bringing negativity into the world. That’s not cool. You don’t want to be responsible for that, do you?

    Eliminate this kind of behavior immediately, and you will be on your way to transforming yourself into a happier, healthier, and more loving person. No more talking poorly about others or yourself! From now on, only speak about people as if they are standing right next to you. If you wouldn’t say it in front of them, then don’t say it at all.

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    Repeat after me.

    I am impeccable with my word.

    2. I do not take things personally.

    Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 1.29.11 PM

      The things people say and do are direct projections of who they are, what they have experienced, what they believe, who they associate with, where they grew up, and so forth. Everyone has a unique way of looking at the world, and no two people see things the same exact way. Nope. That’s simply impossible.

      When people say and do things, they are doing so directly through their view of the world. This is the one and only way people can! This means that nothing anyone ever does or says is personal to anyone but themselves. It simply can’t be. You may be married to your best friend of 40 years and think you know every single thing about this person, but he/she still sees the world in his/her own unique way. There’s just no way around it. But this is a great thing! No matter what is going on in other people’s lives, what they say, what they do, how they act, you can bet that is has nothing to do with you and you don’t have to be hurt by their actions or words.

      Of course, when we think about not taking things personally, we usually associate this with negativity. But the same is true for positive things. Even when people say they love you, it’s still not personal to you. I do not mean they do not love you; they probably do! But even those words, directed at you, are being used to describe a feeling that was created within their world. Maybe you really rocked their world, and now they feel love. That’s wonderful! But, alas, it’s still not personal. Reel it in and feel the positive energy bouncing off each other as you share love, but remember: If one day it changes and they take their love away, that’s not personal either.

      No more taking things personally! Go on, now, say it.

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      I do not take things personally.  

      3. I do not make assumptions.

      noassume

        We all know that silly saying that goes with the word assume. You make an as — yeah, you know, that one. Also, this is important: Never assume the worst-case scenario in an unknown situation. If you don’t know the truth about something, assuming the worst is a one-way ticket to unhappiness.

        These both hold true, yes, but it doesn’t stop there. I want to delve even further into making assumptions. I want to talk about not making assumptions at all.

        Firstly, never assume you know and understand what people are saying all the time. Communication between people can be really tricky. Words can confuse things. If you are even the slightest bit unsure about what someone means, conjure up the courage to ask questions until you are confident you have a good understanding of their words. Positive or negative. It doesn’t matter. Always ask questions until you are certain you know what’s going on.

        Secondly, never assume people just know what you mean. How often do you hear “you know” when talking with someone? I know I say it all the time. But even if the person I am talking to responds with “oh, yeah!” that doesn’t necessarily mean we are on the same page. Be sure to communicate with people as clearly as you can. Do not assume they already know what you want or need. The best way to avoid misunderstandings is to be as clear as possible about your expectations and boundaries. You can always ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be open, honest, and clear. Be proud of you who are and speak up!

        So, no more assumptions about what other people want, need, say, think, or feel, and no more assuming people know what I want, need, say, think, or feel.

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        Let’s say it together this time.

        I do not make assumptions.

        4. I always do my best.

        dobest

          One of the biggest hurdles to jump when telling people to “do their best” is that they often confuse the word “best” with “perfect.” But perfection is not the goal. Doing your best means that you are giving it your all in any circumstances at any time.

          The truth is that your best changes from day to day. It even changes from moment to moment. While you are consistently doing your best, your best is not consistently staying the same. Your best looks different when you’re sick than when you’re healthy. You can bet it looks way different on a day you’ve experienced a loss than on a day you’ve exercised, done yoga or played a game of softball. No matter what, though, you’ve got to get in there, give it your all, and be the best version of yourself.

          So, ask yourself every once in a while: “Is this my absolute best self?” Then, see if there is anything more or different you could do. Keep in mind that as long as you can answer “yes, this is my best” to your question, then there is no reason for self-judgment, abuse, or criticism. Be your best friend instead. Support and encourage yourself just like you would a friend or a son/daughter. And don’t waste time with regret either. Just do your best. No matter what.

          Say it with me now.

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          I always do my best.

          Are you ready to make these four agreements? As soon as you do, you can begin to make them a part of your daily life. Too much time is wasted on beliefs that keep people unhappy. Let’s not waste anymore time suffering.

          Change yourself, change your life, and watch the people around you look at you with amazement and start to change as well. Then watch yourself transform into a happier, healthier, and more loving person.

          Namaste, ya’ll.

          Oh, if you’re interested, here’s the book I’ve been referring to: The Four Agreements.

          Featured photo credit: Close up portrait of a smiling woman looking outside through window via shutterstock.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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