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Seven and a Half Chances You Won’t Regret Taking In Life

Seven and a Half Chances You Won’t Regret Taking In Life

What are the chances you WON’T regret taking in life?

Everyone comes to a point in their life when they face a decision that involves risk. Perhaps it’s having a baby; starting or ending a relationship; or perhaps changing careers, changing cities or changing their entire life.

What if it’s you? Do you twist or stick?

You look at all the money you could lose; the humiliation you could face; the pain of having to start all over again with another person, or another job, or perhaps another country.

Is it going to be worth it?

If you’re facing such a decision, this may make it easier for you; here are six and a half chances you won’t ever regret taking.

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1. Taking the chance to fail.

No one ever regrets trying and failing, not afterwards. If you gave it your best shot and came up short, at least you won’t die wondering. Yes, you could look dumb in front of your friends when that beautiful girl says no to a date; you could lose money if the business venture goes wrong; you could come back with your tail between your legs if you couldn’t stick out that new life in Spain or Thailand or Vladivostock. But what if you win out? And even if you don’t, suddenly you’re a risk taker and you’ll look different—to yourself and everyone who knows you.

2. Taking a chance on yourself.

You can’t go to your grave thinking you’re not old enough or young enough or smart enough or good enough, not if you want to live a life well lived. No one ever regretted taking a chance on finding out they were more than they thought they were. No one ever regretted backing themselves to try—even if you fall short of your goal you will find out along the way that you’re much more than you think you are.

 “I wondered about the explorers who’d sailed their ships to the end of the world. How terrified they must have been when they risked falling over the edge; how amazed to discover, instead, places they had seen only in their dreams.”
Jodi Picoult, Handle With Care

3. Taking a chance on feeling afraid.

Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s soiling your shorts and facing the fear anyway.

Why would anyone run with bulls, dive with sharks, or jump off 250 meter bridges? I did all those things in the span of one month a few years back and I have no regrets. Was I terrified? You betcha. But I found out I could face and beat my fears, and that’s the most important lesson of all.

But you don’t just do it for fun; your fears stand in the way of your success—you’re afraid of letting that guy you love into your life; afraid of striking out on your own in business; afraid of giving up your day job to following your passions full time. Feeling afraid and risking all anyway is one chance you’ll never ever, ever regret.

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4. Taking a chance on love.

Yes, you could really end up hurt here; but if you wait to find the perfect man, the perfect woman, you may find out that they don’t exist or that they’re a perfect bust when you do find them. Your job isn’t to find love, but to find out the walls you have built against it.

“A ship in harbor is safe—but that is not what ships are for.”

John A. Shedd

5. Taking a chance on your dreams.

I worked on an ambulance for many years and took many people on their last ride. Some of those folk knew what was coming, and so we had some interesting conversations. I can’t reveal much of what they said to me but I can tell you this; the ones who had followed their dreams had no regrets whatsoever, no matter how things turned out; the ones who didn’t mourned the waste of it all deeply.

6. Taking a chance on your own worth.

This may mean you need to fight for what you deserve—or it could mean being strong enough to let you go of what you don’t deserve, especially in relationships. In some cases, you risk losing the relationship or perhaps losing your job or your promotion. But if you also gain your self respect, that’s a chance you won’t ever regret taking.

“It seems to me that people have vast potential. Most people can do extraordinary things if they have the confidence or take the risks. Yet most people don’t. They sit in front of the TV and treat life as if it goes on forever.”

Philip Adams

7. Taking a chance on feeling

The biggest risk of all: many of us close off big parts of ourselves because others could hurt us, or betray us, or leave us. We don’t think we could stand it.

But feelings of deep loss, inconsolable grief—these feelings only result from loving deeply. But if we never know what love feels like, what grief is, then we have not lived a real life.

So taking a chance on feeling—however it comes out—that’s not something we should ever regret.

… And taking the half chance.

You know the moment when you have to say “yes” or “no” and you don’t have time to think; the man who asks you if you’d like a drink, but you’re late for an appointment; the friend who rings you and says there’s a big job opening in London but you have to get to the interview across town in an hour; the house that’s just come on the market at a bargain price and you’re not sure if you can afford it.

These are the half chances that you look back on later in life. Can you trust your instincts? If you can, then follow them. You’ll never regret it.

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“First you jump off the cliff and you build wings on the way down.”

Ray Bradbury

So go ahead. Take a chance. If it’s one of the seven and a half chances above, then what do you have to lose?

Because there are just some chances you won’t ever regret, no matter what the gods decide.

Featured photo credit: Geralt via pixabay.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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