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Self Discipline: The Lazy Man’s Enemy

Self Discipline: The Lazy Man’s Enemy

The world is full of people who have a desire to change. They set goals then sit down and write a step by step process of how they are going to accomplish these goals. They get pumped up and say they are ready to start the next day. They go to sleep that night and in the morning… there’s no change. It is easy to get yourself pumped for change when you say you’ll start tomorrow.

You can talk all you want about change, but what makes things happen is your self-discipline. You have to have the willpower to make the changes on your own. Being self-disciplined makes you a better person. You are able to accomplish more, improve yourself, and have more experiences.

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Many people take the lazy road because it’s easier. They talk and talk about the kind of person they want to be. They even say what things they would do to change, but it never happens. Developing self-discipline is difficult. You can’t be lazy and have self-discipline, those two can’t go hand in hand. I have always valued self-discipline and I strive to push myself farther and farther; to extend my limits.

A few years ago I worked for an organization that helped people. It was at this time that I learned my greatest lesson about self-discipline. The president over my area was an amazing man and his wife was just as impressive. They have traveled the world together. He can speak over 12 languages, he is an entrepreneur and self-made millionaire. He ran 100-mile marathons through the mountains of China and hiked without guides through the jungles of Africa. Needless to say, he is one of the most amazing people I have ever met.

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I had the opportunity to meet one on one with him several times. On one occasion I asked him how he and his wife had come to do so many things and travel to so many places. He told me what it comes down to is being disciplined. You have to know when to say yes and when to say no. You have to know your limits and have the determination to push yourself through them.  I asked him how he became so disciplined. He told me that there are two things you need to do to accomplish this.

1. The first and most important step is to tell people you are self-disciplined.

Once you have a reputation to live up to, you push yourself harder than you would have before. Knowing that people expect something from you will help to keep you in check.

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If you want to become organized, tell me people how organized you are. If you want to be healthy, tell people about the healthy foods you eat and exercises you do. Once people have an image of who you are in their minds, you will find yourself working to keep that image alive. That is when you find yourself changing.

2. The second piece of advice he gave me was to start small.

If, for example, you feel that part of becoming self-disciplined is waking up earlier, don’t just set your alarm an hour before your regular time. You have to train yourself to go to sleep earlier. Instead of focusing on the morning, focus on what you do at night so you can get to bed sooner. That way, waking up earlier won’t be as difficult.

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By taking small steps, you can change gradually. This can be difficult sometimes because it’s hard to see the difference it’s making in your life. Grand gestures and extreme changes are easier to see and make it seem like you’re getting somewhere. The truth of the matter is that those grand gestures never last. They are short lived because you didn’t truly change the habit or fix the problem.

Not only should you start small, but most importantly, you need to recognize the little successes that are happening around you. Not everything will happen all at once. It comes one step at a time. Praise yourself for your accomplishments, no matter how trivial they may seem.

It sounds like a vicious cycle, but in order to develop self-discipline, you have to show discipline. As difficult as it may sound it is possible. Implement these steps into your life and you will find yourself changing and becoming a better person; the kind of person you want to be.

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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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