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8 Changes To Make If You Want To Be A Truly Happy Person

8 Changes To Make If You Want To Be A Truly Happy Person

The pursuit of happiness is believed to be one of the basic human rights, but even with all the freedom in the world to pursuit it, a lot of people can’t seem to attain this elusive state of mind. We all get sidetracked by daily problems and goals like putting food on the table, so it’s easy to forget what it takes for you to be happy. True happiness is born out of daily effort, and there are certain lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to get starter down the right path.

1. Stop procrastinating and focus on the present

“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” – Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

Planning and preparation are important if you want to reach your goals, but if you find yourself spending too much time thinking about what you want to do, instead of actually making moves and getting things done, then it’s time to make some changes. You see, once we actually get off the couch and start finishing all those little tasks and chores that we normally put off, we can deal with 80 percent of your to do list within a few hours. Not having to worry about obligations that are beginning to stack up will do wonders for your stress levels, and it only takes a few hours here and there to get most of the work done.

2. Take care of your body

“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha

Our bodies are wonderful little biological machines that can adapt and survive in various harsh conditions, and the way we feel on an emotional level is closely related to how we feel physically. A lot of stress and anxiety comes from being unsatisfied with how we look, but a weak body that lacks proper nutrition will host a fatigued and unsatisfied mind. Common problems such as acne can be resolved with home remedies and a healthy diet, and just a bit more attention to personal hygiene and grooming can make you feel like a million bucks. On top of that, a few running sessions and a few workouts a week will help keep you happy and energetic.

3. Work out what it is that you need to be happy

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

Not everyone has the same vision of happiness, so chasing someone else’s dreams or trying to achieve happiness through a paint by numbers method laid out by a supposed guru isn’t going to get you what you need. You have to write down the top 3 things that you need to be happy, and add several key points that will make each one of your goals happen. Once you start dissecting things in this manner you often find that a seemingly minor problem like getting 2 hours of sleep less per night than you need, can actually be holding you back in different areas, e.g. you can’t focus, your less productive at work, work cuts into your personal time and so on.

4. Free yourself of things and people that keep you down

“Surround yourself with the right people, and realize your own worth. Honestly, there are enough bad people out there in the world – you don’t need to be your own worst enemy.” – Lucy Hale

We tend to get stuck with toxic people, as well as items and tools, that don’t allow us to reach our full potential because we get used to things being a certain way, and change is too difficult and scary. That car that keeps breaking down and costing a fortune to repair, fairly dull kitchen knives that will just about do the job, a “friend” who is only interested in his or her own problems, a partner that sucks the life energy straight from you – these are the things that limit you and cause you grief.  Try to hang out with good friends, cut the bad things from your life one at a time and you’ll breathe much easier.

5. Give up some of your bad habits and replace them with good ones

“The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits. We can never free ourselves from habit. But we can replace bad habits with good ones.” – Steven Pressfield

While certain habits may be born out of necessity, a lot of them are a matter of laziness or indulgence. You may not think of things like eating a lot of junk food or smoking as all that harmful to your mood and emotional health, but it’s when you give them up that you realize how much better of you are off. Each bad habit should be replaced by a good one, e.g. stop smoking and start walking for an hour a day.

6. Let go of the need to “win” arguments

“Convincing yourself doesn’t win an argument.” – Robert Half

Alright, I’ll be the first one to say that arguments are a necessary part of life. They can actually help resolve big issues, but not if you approach them with a “winning” mentality, and not if you start them over the smallest things. In fact, you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you just focus on preventing arguments by effectively communicating with those around you. Once you start preemptively resolving potential arguments, you’ll get upset far less often, and you will have less drama in your life.

7. Enjoy the little moments

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

The old saw about stopping to smell the roses is a real gem, but not a lot of people actually try to apply it in real life. The key here is to make a mental note to stop, take a few deep breaths and focus on your immediate surroundings every time something pleasant happens, or if you are feeling down and want to calm your mind. Perhaps a cute girl or guy smiled at you at the coffee shop, or maybe you had a fun little chat with your friends – savor those moments and let the little wave of euphoria wash over you.

8. Take up something that you are passionate about

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou

Taking up hobby or devoting a good deal of your time to master a skill has several benefits:

  • Your work prevents your mind from wandering off into the land of self-doubt
  • Being really good at something will make you feel more confident
  • Seeing the fruits of your labor will make you very happy
  • You’ll get to socialize with fun and like-minded people
  • You get to focus your energy on something creative and relieve stress

If you spend just a few hours a week on doing something that you are passionate about, you’ll be able to reduce your anxiety and get a strong sense of accomplishment.

It can take some time, and quite a bit of serious effort to reach a stage in your life where you feel relaxed and content for 70-80% of the time, and can honestly say that you are happy in life. The points covered here will definitely help bring you a step closer to achieving your goal, but remember that knowing is not the same as doing.

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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