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If You Don’t Know These Life Truths By Now, You Probably Haven’t Learned Enough From Life

If You Don’t Know These Life Truths By Now, You Probably Haven’t Learned Enough From Life

Life is full of success and failure. What defines the difference between the two is what you learn from each experience. If you haven’t learned the following life truths, by now, though, you probably haven’t been paying attention:

1. Nothing tastes better in the microwave.

Take the time to put it in the oven. On that note, stop buying things that are microwavable. If a food is made to be cooked in 90 seconds or less, it is most likely full of cheese, sodium and saturated fat, and therefore terrible for you.

2. If he likes you, you’ll know, if not, you’ll be confused.

This holds true for both men and women. If you think there’s something shady going on, there most likely is. Trust your gut. Healthy relationships are based on good communication, and this means telling the other person that you care about them.

3. Your parents are usually right.

You shouldn’t have gotten that piercing in middle school and you definitely should have paid more attention when your dad showed you how to change a tire. They’ve been there, they know. Giving advice takes a lot of energy, especially when, nine times out of ten, it falls on deaf ears.

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4. Your parents are sometimes wrong.

It’s a terrible feeling to go to your parents and realize that they don’t have all the answers or, sometimes, the answer that you want to hear. Part of becoming an adult is making your own decisions because, in the end, you’re the one who will have to live out the results. Parents, by nature, want to keep you safe, and sometimes life requires us to take risks.

5. If you don’t exercise and eat healthy, you will get fat.

Unless you are a 16-year-old boy, you cannot eat 11 White Castle burgers and not pay for it later. The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week and muscle strengthening on two or more days a week that works all major muscle groups. Running to catch the express bus once in a while does not count.

6. Too much sun is bad for you.

To quote Mary Schmich via Baz Lurhmann, “Wear sunscreen.”

7. Credit card debt is real and won’t magically go away.

In the United States, the average household credit card debt as of January 2014 is $15,270 dollars. Educate yourself about your finances because it is only going to get harder as you get older to catch up. Bank of America and Khan Academy collaborated on these great, easy-to-understand videos to get you started.

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8. Age is just the amount of years you have lived, not how many you have left, or what you choose to do with them.

Change careers. Start a new hobby. Move to a different country. You get one life, and who knows how long it will be. Age is only as important as you make it.

9. No one likes the drunk girl/guy.

When you can start to afford nice clothes, you don’t want your friends throwing up on them, and when you can no longer sleep until your 2 p.m. class, you don’t want drunk texts waking you up at midnight the night before work. Drink in moderation.

10. Fear is just an idea.

This is one of the hardest truths to learn. The only thing keeping you from achieving your goals, is fear: fear of rejection, fear of failing, fear of success, and fear of accountability. The great thing about ideas, though, is that they can be changed, improved, and even forgotten.

11. Tomorrow always comes, and the unfinished work of yesterday with it.

The daily struggles of existing can be stressful enough without adding the feelings of having to rush to finish something because you chose to procrastinate. Face your obstacles and tasks as they are presented to you and move on.

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12. Less is always more.

Less packaging. Less words. Less Justin Bieber, please.

13. You don’t spend enough time with your grandparents.

If you’re fortunate enough to have grandparents still alive, finish reading this article and call them. They have knowledge and wisdom beyond anyone else in your life and you will miss them more than you know when they are gone.

14. Not everyone goes to college, gets a job, and gets married.

Some people get married and then go to college. Some people never get married. Some people will never get a “day job.” The path outlined for us when we are young is far less linear than we’d like to think. It’s way more messy and confusing, especially when you realize you might not want these things once they are presented to you.

15. Commitment is the way to success.

This relates to relationships, careers, and general life goals. Jeff Goins explains it well by stating, “Greatness has a cost: commitment.” Being able to be patient and remain focused when things become challenging are what separate those who get what they want from those who end up with regrets.

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16. Change is the only constant.

By definition, in order to grow we must change. All we can do is prepare the best we can and then ride the wave we catch, or the one that catches us.

17. You are the only one that can make yourself happy.

There are plenty of people in your life who want to make you happy and will try, but in the end, they can only do so much. You may not be able to change your physical circumstances, your past experiences, or how terrible your sister-in-law treats you. Many times, you cannot control the emotions you feel either. You can, however, control your actions. Everything you do is a choice between at least two options: there’s great power in accepting that.

Featured photo credit: little kids/Chivali Chopra via Flickr

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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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