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10 Things You Should Avoid On The Road To Pursuing Happiness

10 Things You Should Avoid On The Road To Pursuing Happiness

We all define happiness differently, because we all live our own lives and we experience our own set of situations. However, there are certain facts about happiness that we can all relate to, no matter how differently we live our lives and no matter what we have experienced. Here’s a secret. Happiness is not about doing anything special, but more about choosing what not to do. Here are 10 things you should avoid on the road to pursuing happiness.

1. Too many expectations

Sure, we all have expectations. We wish that everything will always work the way we plan them to be. But the truth is, things will not always be the way we expect them to be. We can’t expect everyone to want to do things as we do. Each person’s experience and way of dealing with things is unique, so to expect others to do things the way we do is unfair to them. When we have too many expectations, we are not going to be able to work with others, because it will often cause conflict with others, and that will only give us more trouble than a peace of mind. If we can put our expectations aside, allow things to be what they are, and become what they need to be, we will be so much happier.

2. Comparing ourselves with others

We all know people who often evaluate their happiness by comparing themselves with others. They compare their income, their possessions, their status, their intelligence, their appearances, their success and so on. Jealousy is the thief of joy.

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The truth is, there is no end to the comparison game. No matter who we compare ourselves to, there will always be someone out there who are better at doing what we did. Comparison puts our focus on the wrong thing and person. When we constantly compare ourselves to others, we are actually wasting our time and energy focusing on other peoples’ lives, rather than our own. Understand that we were not born to live other peoples’ lives. We can learn to enjoy what we are, rather than regretting what we aren’t.

3. Toxic people

Negative people are good at telling us what we are not capable of becoming, while influencing us to believe that what they say is true. They will not only drag our energy down, but also crush our dream by constantly reminding us of how impossible it is to get to where we want to be. Surrounding ourselves with these people will sabotage our happiness.

We can always choose who we want to spend our time with. We can spend our time with positive people who talks about ideas, who are willing to exchange information and who can provide us with useful knowledge. By choosing who we spend our time with wisely, we can gain so much wisdom which we can use to improve ourselves. Self-improvement plays a crucial part of our happiness, as we will find a better life’s purpose through the process.

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4. Holding grudges

People often carry on grudges while having moral battles with the one who has done them wrong, casting themselves as the righteous and the other person in the wrong. What they don’t realize is that they waste too much energy on it, and eventually put themselves into a darker side of the situation. Whatever damage that the person causes cannot be undone, therefore holding on to it is only going to gradually damage you. One of the keys to true happiness is forgiveness. Letting go is the key to true healing, and that is where true happiness eventually emerges.

5. Self importance

Self importance is a product of fear. People who believe in self importance are afraid of losing their ego over anything else. They view themselves as an extremely important person, and expect everyone around them to put them as a priority in any situation. These behaviors will eventually damage their relationship with the people around them, and leads to an isolated life, since people will try to stay away from them. If we all learn to have gratitude towards the people around us, we will learn that what and who we are today are somewhat influenced by them. We will learn to appreciate the people and things we have, and live a much happier life.

6. Suppressing emotions

Holding back on our emotions might lead to depression. We might think that showing our emotions would make us vulnerable, but the truth is, a truly strong person is able to show all their emotions because they are not afraid to acknowledge that they are only human, and that is is absolutely okay to feel. When we are open to our emotions, and are honest about them, we are setting ourselves free from the heavy emotional burden that are otherwise buried inside of us. A truly happy person allows themselves to feel every emotion and appreciate being alive. We have to experience all emotions in order for us to appreciate happiness.

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7. Worrying too much over the future

There are many other ways to secure our future than to be worrying over it. It is so important to value each moment of our lives since we only live once. To worry over the future takes away our precious moments, because we are too distracted to enjoy living the here and now. We can set goals and be productive to secure our future. Enjoying the here and now contributes so much to our happiness as it ensures that we don’t miss out on our little happy moments that accumulated to a fulfilling life.

8. Putting others down

Some people think that putting others down will boost themselves up. There is a saying that blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make your’s shine any brighter. People criticize and put others down so they can have the feeling of superiority, so they can hide their own insecurities. Judging others don’t define who they are, it only defines who we really are. Strong people don’t put others down, instead they lift them up. Instead of putting people down, we should inspire somebody, improve somebody else’s life for the better, and make someone smile.

9. Blaming

To blame our faults on someone else is a fairly convenient way to get away from trouble. But what we don’t know, is that when we put the responsibility on someone else, we are actually putting ourselves at risk of not having the control over our situation. We become the victim of our circumstances, since we are not able to manage our situation because we are not in control.

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We also lose the opportunity to learn from our problem and grow from it. When we stop blaming others, we begin to discover who we truly are. We will find peace within ourselves when we realize that our happiness are entirely our own responsibility. When we learn to overcome our problems with courage, we will find ourselves in a much peaceful, fulfilling and happier life.

10. Rushing

It is important to know that we are the ones who create the time pressure for ourselves. It might seem like we are often running out of time, but the truth is, if we manage our time efficiently, there is always enough time in the day. What we can do is to set priority to things that matter more over things that are less important to us. We can’t have all the time in the world, and we can’t do everything we want to do at the same time. But we can manage our time, set priorities, and try to get the other things done when we have the time and opportunity to do them.

Rushing over things is not only bad for our health, but often cause us more chaos than decent accomplishment towards our plan. Once we stop rushing through life, we will be amazed at how much more life we have time for. A healthy and well-balanced life is crucial in our pursue of happiness.

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Crystie Lim

Life Coach

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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