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Make Your Life Easier and More Enjoyable in 10 Easy Steps

Make Your Life Easier and More Enjoyable in 10 Easy Steps

Wouldn’t it be great if genies were real and you could wish for a simpler life? As unfortunate as it is that mythical creatures don’t exist, you can learn to cultivate a more simple life on your own. The key to doing so lies in taking a deep breath, and thinking about the little choices you make every day.

1. Turn off your cell phone

If you’re constantly looking down at your phone, life is passing you by without you even realizing it. Use your cell phone only when absolutely necessary, and at other times put it away so you can engage with friends and family and be in the moment. You know those people you see out to dinner with a spouse constantly looking down at their phone to check their latest fantasy football stats? Don’t be one of them.

2. Savor the simple things

Waking up to puppy-dog kisses, taking a walk outside on a sunny day and enjoying a really good cup of coffee. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference in your day. Don’t let them slip away without acknowledging them. Savor and delight in the simple things, soaking up all the happiness they bring you.

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3. Slow down and unwind

We live in a fast-paced world that is all about instant feedback and gratification. Take time to escape the rat race by slowing down and unwinding at some point during the day. Sit outside on the porch to read the paper and drink your morning coffee for a nice, peaceful start to your day. If you need to unwind at the end of a long day, pop in a yoga DVD to do when you get home. Figure out what makes you feel most relaxed, and find a way to make it a part of your daily routine.

4. Focus on things you’re passionate about

The wise Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” If you’re doing something you aren’t totally enthused about, you might want to rethink its role in your life. Obviously, there are certain things you have to do out of necessity, but beyond that, if it’s not necessary and it’s draining to you, cut it out of your life.

5. Cut back on your social media time

Don’t waste time on social media when you could be spending that time having face-to-face conversations with people who matter to you. Spending excessive amounts of time on social media is like bingeing on junk food. It feels good at the time, but you’ll probably just end up regretting it later. In fact, according to this infographic, 43 percent of teens express a desire to disconnect at times.

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6. Have a sense of humor and laugh off mistakes

If you’re human, you’re going to make mistakes. It’s part of the deal. Rather than agonize over them, laugh them off and learn from them. Life’s too short to take yourself too seriously.

7. Simplify your wardrobe

If you have a closet full of clothes (and I am guilty as charged), you can save time and simplify your life by simplifying your wardrobe. Keep the basics that you need and donate the rest. You’ll save yourself time in the morning when your wardrobe options have been cut in half.

8. Simplify your meals

Don’t feel like you have to be Rachel Ray in the kitchen every night. Look at the ingredients you already have on hand, and tap into your creativity to come up with a dish based on what you’ve got. Plan ahead and shop for meals a week at a time. On Sundays, map out what you want to have each night of the week, and shop for everything at once so you don’t have to make multiple runs to the store during the week.

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9. Communicate within designated parameters

Now that we have cell phones, email, Facebook messaging, Twitter, Skype and a variety of other communication means at our disposal, it’s important to be intentional about how much time you spend communicating. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes twice a day to deal with emails, and leave it at that. Don’t get suckered into the time-wasting trap of checking your inbox every 20 minutes.

10. Don’t be afraid to say no

If someone asks you to do something and you’re dreading the thought of completing the task, don’t be afraid to say no. Being upfront is much better than committing and having to back out later, and if you word it nicely, the other person will probably understand. Besides, standing up for yourself is nothing to cower away from. Don’t buy into the idea that you have to do everything.

Simplifying your life isn’t rocket science; it’s actually quite simple. Put these 10 principles into practice today, and the simpler life you’ve been dreaming of can be yours.

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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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