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10 Things To Stop Caring About If You Want To Be Happier

10 Things To Stop Caring About If You Want To Be Happier

It’s time to care less. Yep, that’s right. Sometimes we take the world on our shoulders, and instead of making the world a better place, all we end up doing is creating more stress for ourselves. Here are simple tips to ease that heavy mental load and feel more carefree.

1. What others think

Dance to your own beat. Act dumb. Do whatever you have to but don’t take on board what others think. It’s your life, your decisions and choices. Others love to judge, and why should you care if they do? Only you define yourself, so let them be amused if it makes them happy. When you care too much about that others will say, you live your life for them and not yourself.

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2. Past mistakes

We all make mistakes and mess up in life. That’s just how life goes. Don’t be hard on yourself, though. Accept that everyone gets it wrong sometimes; it’s part of the human condition. You really are allowed to cut yourself some slack. Learn to forgive yourself more often.

3. Failure

The big “F” word that everyone fears. It doesn’t have to be a scary concept, though. Ultimately, it depends on your attitude to failure. If you see failure as not being perfect, you’re going to be permanently miserable. A more realistic idea of failure is giving up. If you haven’t given up, you haven’t failed. See failure as a learning curve, a trial and error process. See failure as your friend – it’s no big deal unless you allow it to be.

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4. What you don’t have

The human default position tends to err on the side of lack rather than abundance, which is not conducive to feeling carefree. We focus on what we don’t have and end up feeling thoroughly deprived. What’s the point of that? I often tell my clients to focus on the positives of what they have and the negatives of what they don’t have. Why would you want to torture yourself with all the things you don’t have? That type of thinking will not serve you in any productive way at all. Make a list of all the things in your life that you appreciate. There will always be others with more and others with less. What you have is enough.

5. “What Ifs”

We can drive ourselves crazy worrying about what might happen in the future. No one can predict the future (psychics might dispute this), and there is no point in torturing yourself unnecessarily about things that may never come to pass. Remind yourself that this type of worry is wasted energy and distract yourself. Face worry head on – if you can do something in the present moment, go for it. If not, distract yourself and ‘shelve’ the worries.

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6. “I’ll be happy when…” thoughts

When we believe that we will be happy once something has happened, we effectively put our life on hold until the event happens. Wishing your current life is away is a precious waste of happy moments in life. Be in the moment more and care less about being happy in the future. Decide to be happy now. Happiness is not a destination, it is a manner of traveling.

7. Regrets

Regret is a part of life. The past cannot be undone, so it pays to look at what you have done in life philosophically. Did you learn something from it? If you learned never to do it again or to try a different approach, then you’ve ended up with a positive result. Accept what has gone before, make allowances for human error and move on.

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8. Rejection

Many of us are so afraid of rejection that we stay in our comfort zones and never risk true intimacy. Wear your heart on your sleeve and risk being vulnerable. The more you hide out of fear, the greater the fear will grow. Show yourself that you can express your feelings and live with the consequences. You will conquer fear of rejection in this way and feel more carefree. Even if the outcome is not as expected, you will soon realize that it wasn’t as bad as you anticipated and that you can deal with it. Be a little more thick skinned, be brave and see life as an adventure.

9. Society’s expectations

Be thin, be beautiful. Show off your wealth and status and then you’ll be adored. What nonsense. When you like and accept yourself as you are, you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. Don’t buy into the constant media images of perfection. Most of the images are airbrushed and lead us to believe that we should all look as perfect. Try not to take it to heart. We all like to see perfect images, but don’t lose sight of the fact that most of it is digitally enhanced and not natural. Love yourself, imperfections and all. Self acceptance is true freedom.

10. Being good enough

It’s easy to feel that we don’t measure up somehow. We live in a competitive world. It’s okay and even healthy to want to improve and grow as a person. It becomes unhealthy, though, when we internalize negative ideas about how we aren’t good enough. Always challenge this type of thinking. What is “good enough”? Where is the international rule book that clarifies what “good enough” is? As long as you feel happy with who you are, where you are and how far you have come, that is all that matters.

We all worry unnecessarily and create inner misery for ourselves. Remember the above ten points, as they are definitely items you can immediately remove from your worry list. Hopefully you’ll feel a little lighter and a little more carefree too!

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Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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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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