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Make These 15 Small Changes If You Want To Become Happier And Healthier

Make These 15 Small Changes If You Want To Become Happier And Healthier

So you want to be happier and healthier. If you want to make  a life change for the better there are several different ways to get you there. It’s not difficult at all once you gain an understanding of your choices and you are willing to take action.

I have no doubt that the items on this list will put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

1. Volunteer to Help Others

Sometimes we forget that there are others who need our help. When we give to others we come away with a sense of satisfaction that can’t be replicated.

Think of a time you’ve been there for someone and you will remember that feeling. Make this notion of serving others part of your weekly routine. You will be providing a life change for two people – yourself and the recipient of your kindness.

On a smaller scale you could also make ‘giving compliments’ part of your daily routine – this also has a pleasing affect on your mood and it’s a nice thing to do for others.

2. Wake Up Earlier

Getting up just a half an hour earlier than you need to can help you to feel calmer, more in control and generally happier.

Staying ahead of things means your’e avoiding the rush and cutting down on stress. Practise this every day and ultimately you will be happier and healthier.

3. Spend Money on Experiences

Researchers have found that spending money on items isn’t really what makes us happy. It may please us for a short while, but really what makes us happy is to spend our money on experiences.

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So, go and book yourself  a day trip away to somewhere beautiful and cancel that order for the new laptop.

4. Laugh, Cry and Have Sex

Here are three ways to release endorphins (happy hormones) which will lift your mood in no time.

Who would have thought that crying could make you feel good. Well, it makes sense in a way as we know already that holding in tears doesn’t make us feel very good. The relief of letting it all out brings about happy emotions – so don’t hold back the next time you feel like blubbing.

We already know that sex is good for our health as it’s fantastic exercise but now that we know it’s good for our mood there’s no more excuses not to have a good romp.

5. Drink Almond Milk

Almond milk has many fantastic benefits while dairy milk can wreak havoc on the human body. Stay away from dairy and use almond milk as a replacement – your cardiovascular and skeletal system will benefit and you will also have better skin. This is definitely a small life change that will result in a healthier you.

6. Smile

Smiling releases endorphins or happy hormones which enhances mood.

If you put a pen horizontally between your teeth for a few minutes you will be forced to smile and your mood will thank you. This well researched phenomenon is an immediate fix for anyone who’s a bit in need of a lift.

A good tool to use here would be to take out an old photo album (that doesn’t contain upsetting photo’s) and flick through the pages. You will be smiling so much you’ll be feeling happy in no time.

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7. Surround Yourself with Happy Healthy Folk

Our habits and our moods rub off on one another. We are impressionable beings both on an energy and psychological level.

If we are in a group of happy people for the afternoon we will inevitably feel happy as we make our journey home. So choose your company wisely and your mood will escalate steadily.

8. Breathe Properly

People get stressed and their breathing becomes shallow – they forget how to breathe properly.

Anytime you notice your breathing speed up and become shallow, stop what your’e doing and inhale deeply – hold for a second and let it out slowly. Repeat a few times until your breathe naturally slows down on it’s own.

You will feel relaxed and renewed after this exercise. It’s good for your lungs, your digestion, your circulatory system and of course it’s great for managing stress.

9. Expose Yourself To Humour

Just as with your choice of company – be careful about what other things you are exposed to. Watch lots of good comedy on T.V, read humorous books and listen to happy music.

We each have our own taste, but Melissa McCarthy does it for me every time.

10. Write a Pot List

This is like a baby bucket list. It’s a list of the top ten small things you wanna do in the next month. It could be something simple like going sailing or something more lasting like a new tattoo or rescuing a  dog. It’s completely up to you. There are so many adventures out there big and small just waiting to be realised. Now it’s your turn to have a little fun.

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11. Change Your Sleep Routine

For about a year now, I have been going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. People compliment me and say that I look really well and I’m pretty sure it’s down to my sleep pattern.

I don’t feel tired anymore – I’ m careful to get at least eight hours sleep every night. Of course there will be exceptions to this but as a rule have your set hours for getting up and going to bed.

12. Connect with Something Bigger than Yourself

Connecting with something like a community group, religion, nature or the universe is a surefire way to invite happiness into your life.

Get involved in a spiritual group or maybe something of interest to you in the community. There is always very positive energy in activities involving music and dance.

13. Eat, Drink and be Merry

Now don’t get all excited – I mean in moderation.

Those endorphins are just so easy to manufacture – turns out we can make even more if we drink wine (a glass a day), eat dark chocolate and spicy food (yummy).

Then we have tea – gingseng makes us happy and green and white tea are particularly healthy. Green tea is a great antioxidant. It does a fantastic job of cleansing our systems and it gets to work on those calories too (nice one!).

So throw out the coffee (go on just do it!) and buy yourself a few boxes of herbal tea. You’ll feel so much better.

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14. Lift Weights

Lifting weights is all the rage now. It is thought to be the best way to get in shape and it has tremendous benefits for your posture and your muscle strength. Getting in shape makes us happy and you guessed it – healthy.

15. Be Grateful

Gratitude can be used as a tool for happiness and good health. Take some time every day to write down your messages of gratitude and see what happens. Many experts on the laws of the universe say that when you make a statement of gratitude you get more of what you are grateful for.

So if you state – “I am so grateful for my good health” – you will get more good health. I was very ill for some time and using gratitude everyday was a very big help to me.

Happiness and good health are intertwined – you get one then you have the other within your reach.

Taking action on even one or two of the above could have a dramatic effect on your life – so why not have a try and see how you get on. The effects of each change will be a reward in itself and you will build momentum as you work your way through the list.

Whatever you do – don’t forget to smile.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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