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Why People Who Are Sullen From Time To Time Are Happier People

Why People Who Are Sullen From Time To Time Are Happier People

Happiness is not always a good thing. And when you think about it, this fact should be obvious. All pleasures in life, whether food or games or company, become negative things when taken to extremes. So why should happiness itself be an exception?

Studies have shown the potential downsides of excessive happiness. According to the Association for Psychological Science, researchers have found “that people who are feeling extreme amounts of happiness may not think as creatively and also tend to take more risks.”

So, if you feel sullen from time to time, you should take some pride in it. For here are some ways in which being grouchy can make you a better person overall.

You are more creative

We all know the stereotype of the miserable, starving artist who produces great cultural works. Just think of Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, or Franz Kafka. Even Aristotle wondered why outstanding artists and philosophers all appeared to be melancholy.

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In 2010, researcher Modupe Akinola conducted a study which further correlated negative emotions with high creativity. Akinola induced positive and negative emotions in two different groups by either praising or criticizing their hopes and dreams. She then had the groups get to work building collages, at which point the collages were evaluated by professional artists.

The artists found that the collages created by those with negative emotions were superior.

Why is this the case? Australian psychologist Joe Forgas argues that those with negative emotions can focus better on details and are more attentive, which leads to better artistic work.

Creativity by its very nature requires someone to step away from the mass of humanity and create something which will stand apart. Stepping off that path can lead to loneliness and then misery. But it can also lead to great things being accomplished, which can explain why those poor artists who accomplish so much exist.

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You are a better decision maker

Forgas has also found that unhappy people have other advantages beyond a superior focus on details. In 2009, he conducted an experiment to test their overall mental capabilities.

Forgas showed people films and asked them to think about thoughts which would put them in a happy or unhappy mood. Then he had them take part in a series of tasks, including judging the truth of urban myths and providing eyewitness accounts of events.

Forgas found that those in an unhappier mood did a better job at accurately judging what was true and what was not. He noted that negative thinking promoted “careful thinking” and that unhappy people paid better attention to the outside word. They also made better communicators and writers compared to happy people.

As noted above, happy people tend to take more risks because the negative emotions which may make them more adverse to risk are weaker, making them much more expensive insurance prospects. If that is combined with a negative person’s superior focus on details, that can help better understand the choices behind a decision.

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You will strive more than happy people

Sullen people, by their very nature, are not happy with the way things are. This means that they are more willing to advance and change themselves to improve their prospects compared to happy people who are content to remain as they are.

In one study, psychologist Edward Diener found that college freshman who identified themselves as very happy earned about $3,500 less in their late 30s compared to their colleagues who were not as happy. Diener suggested that it was this very happiness which contributed to these smaller earnings, as the unhappy people were more inclined to change careers or improve their education in order to progress.

It is those who are not content who change the course of human history. Washington and the Founding Fathers were unhappy with British taxes and regulations on their way of life, and thus they founded a nation. Martin Luther King Jr. was unhappy with the treatment of his fellow African Americans, and thus fought to change it.

Perseverance and striving for a better world often requires someone who is sullen with the things they are. That striving leads to greater happiness both for the individual and the greater community.

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You do not always need to be happy

For our entire lives, we have been told that we have a right to be happy. But, as we look at all seven billion people in this planet, can you truly believe that every single one of these seven billion can attain constant happiness?

No. It is impossible. And that is perfectly fine.

Happiness is like a breeze or a puff of smoke. The harder you try to grasp it, the more easily it slips between your fingers. And sometimes, a sullen individual can think better, plan better, and dream for a different route which will lead to more happiness over the long run.

Featured photo credit: Clemens v. Vogelsang via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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