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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Find Happiness in Your Everyday Life

How to Find Happiness in Your Everyday Life

If happiness is free, how come people cannot find happiness?

I have invested the last 15 years of my life studying happiness and personal development. Today, I will share with you how to find happiness in your everyday life. Let me get started with some history…

What if I told you today that everything you know about happiness is wrong? What if I told you that your brain was not designed to be happy?

It all started about 200 thousand years ago, our ancestors lived in caves. Men would only leave the cave to hunt, and women would only leave to gather food. Men were called hunters, women were called gathers. Both genders had two goals for surviving and thriving. Happiness was not something that they cared about.

The only reason we survived and other creatures didn’t is our mind. Our biggest weapon was not a stone or a stick, it was our brain. We were not the biggest animal or the strongest, but we are the smartest. The mental ability that helped us survive has kept us unhappy and stressed for a long time.

We survived because our brains focus on the negative aspect of life. Scientists call this tendency “Negativity Bias”.[1] This negative bias allows us to pay attention to any signs of danger, and react. That is the reason most of us are afraid of the unknown and I’m convinced you can not be afraid and happy at the same time.

Our brains might have evolved, but it is still wired the same way, we care about survival and safety more than anything. Now, that you are aware of this negative bias, it will be easier for you to find happiness in your everyday life.

This article will talk about 10 scientific proven tips to find happiness in your everyday life:

1. Find Your Why

Forget about your goals, think about your purpose. Think about the underlying reasons you want to accomplish your goals.

The Classic author James Addison wrote about finding happiness, he said:[2]

“There are three grand essentials to happiness in life, something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

If you can find something that you love to do and can make a real impact doing it, that is your why.

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Simon Sinek popularized this term in 2009, in his book Find Your Why, he recounts this story. He once sat next to a man on a plane. Sinek asked this man one question: What do you do? The man responded that he has been living his dream for 20 years. Sinek was intrigued, so he asked more questions, the man responded, my company produces steel. How can steel make this man happy? The man clarified “we make products that are easy to recycle.”

This man found something to do: produce steel. Something to love, keep the environment clean. Something to hope for, creating a safe environment for the future generation. What do you love to do?

I love helping people create better lives by sharing tips, tools, and strategies to move their lives and businesses forward. That is my why. What is yours? You can find yours here: How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person

2. Be Present

When you are driving a familiar route, your brain starts to daydream. It shifts its attention from driving to your internal thoughts, we call this mind-wandering. Have you experienced this?

Mind-wandering is a special human characteristic. It allows our brains to drift away from the task-at-hand to focus something else. It helps us to be more creative, but it hinders our ability to live and enjoy the moment.

Matt Killingsworth is a former Harvard researcher, he believes that people want a lot of things out of life, but they mainly want happiness.[3] He studied our brains, and he concluded that our wandering mind is responsible for our unhappiness. He believes that our wandering brains have more impact on our happiness than our income, education, gender, and marital status.

He conducted scientific research over multiple years, he asked people three questions:

  • How do you feel?
  • What are you doing?
  • Are you thinking about something other than what you are doing?

If people answered “yes” to the last question, their brains were not present at the moment and they were less happy. He concluded that being present and happiness are correlated.

It seems that being present is essential to our happiness. If you go to a concert, watch the concert through your eyes, and not through your camera lens. If you take a road trip, don’t worry about reaching your destination, enjoy the road. If you have dinner with your family, ask them questions, and listen to their answers. Be present.

Try these 34 Ways To Live in the Moment And Grow in the Moment.

3. Care, Connect, Create

Humans are social creatures, we like to be connected to other people and we like to take care of others. Surround yourself with people who care about you and you care about them. Connect with old friends. Make it a point to show your friends and family that you care about them and that you are grateful for their presence in your life.

Connect with your loved ones on a deeper level. My most important job in life is being a father, and taking care of my family. I make a conscious effort to have dinner with my family every day. I go out with my wife every Sunday. I coach my kids’ soccer teams, I attend their Karate practice, and I engage with them every day.

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I call or text my friends as much as possible. I check on my parents every day. I’m intentional about connecting with my family, friends and everyone I come in contact with.

Create something with your hands, build something. Dan Ariely is one of my favorite behavioral economists, he emphasizes the importance of using our hands to create things.[4] He believes that creating things with our hands leads to our happiness. He points out that IKEA understands this concept, and that is why they sell complicated furniture parts with vague instructions manual and ask customers to assemble them. The process is horrible, but the satisfaction that people get after they build their own furniture is enormous.

Build something with your hands, the joy that it brings to your heart is amazing. Connect with people that you care about, and create a life worth sharing. Start today.

4. Close Your Open Files

In their best-selling book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Roy F.Baumeister and John Tierney estimate the average person has about 150 unfinished tasks that he or she thinks about all day long.

I have about 3 unfinished tasks that I’m thinking about right now, leaking faucet, fixing my AC, and adding more products to my website. These tasks are called open loops, and the more open files you have, the less happy you are.

You need to close most of the open files in your head, the easiest way to do that is brain dump or what I call “drain the pain”.

Write all of your unfinished tasks down. This tactic will trick your brain because your brain feels better when you write your tasks down. It tricks your brain to think that you did something about it.

5. Celebrate Every Victory

Football players celebrate every down, every tackle, and every touchdown. They do not pay attention to the score, they celebrate everything.

Adopt this mindset, celebrate every time you complete a task. If you answer an email, stop and celebrate for a moment. If you have a difficult conversation with your coworker, enjoy your accomplishment.

Dr. Rick Hanson advises people to savor positive experiences.[5] He encourages people to celebrate after any accomplishment. This practice will train your brain to move from a positive state to a positive trait.

What did you celebrate today?

6. Exercise

Exercise increases endorphins reduces cortisol and adrenaline in our body. It is also a proven remedy for depression and anxiety.

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According to the New York Times, small amounts of exercise have a big impact on our happiness.[6] People who work out at least once a week are more cheerful than those who do not exercise.

Tony Robbins believes that motion creates emotion. If you do not like how you feel, go to the gym, walk outside, or practice yoga. The benefit of 12 minutes of exercise can last up to 12 hours.

If you hate exercise, this article will change your mind.

7. Sleep

According to the American Psychological Association, more sleep would make you happier, healthier and safer.[7] From my experience, I can assure you that a tired person is not a happy person.

You need to sleep to function. Sleep is very important to your overall sense of happiness and wellbeing. Lack of sleep slows your reaction time, impairs your memory, reduces your happiness. It also weakens your immune system and slows your critical thinking.

If you want to be happy, pay attention to your sleep quantity and quality.

Sleep is critical to your happiness, do not sacrifice sleep to watch another episode on Netflix.

8. Declutter Your Life

Declutter your space and your life, clutter leads to stress.

Get rid of anything that you have not used in 18 months. Do not let physical objects occupy an emotional space in your life. let it go. To get yourself started, start by recycling three items from your wardrobe today.

Mike Hanski talked about the importance of decluttering:

“Clean homes and organized spaces are proven to reduce stress, improve happiness, and even improve your eating and exercise habits.”

Keep your environment clean and gain more happiness.

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Decluttering is not about getting rid of stuff, it’s about getting control of your life. Ask what is the purpose of everything you have? What value does it provide? Can you digitize it? Whom would it hurt if you get rid of it?

Here’s How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide).

9. Eat Chocolate

A study in 1996 showed that chocolate causes our brains to release endorphins making us happier.[8] Chocolate has phenylethylamine, it is considered a natural antidepressant, Tryptophan which produces a feeling of happiness, and caffeine that is well known as a wake-up drug.

There is another study that was published by the National Library of Medicine proved that eating chocolate improves our health and improves our mood.[9]

I eat chocolate daily, and I enjoy the taste and the benefit of my habit. Go to the closest store, get some dark chocolate and enjoy it.

10. Sing and Dance

In 2013, Pharrell Williams released a song that has been heard more than one billion times around the world. What is the name of the song? Happy.

Happy spread across the world like a virus that can not be stopped. It invited listeners to either clap their hands or move their bodies. Pharrell Williams understood people a deep desire to be happy, so he repeated the word “happy” 57 times in less than four minutes.

If you doubt the power of music on your mood, think again. I challenge you to listen to this song and not to be happy. The power of this song is its simple lyrics, in fact, the first words that Williams said were “It might seem crazy what I’m about to say.”

Do not take music for granted, great songs move us. It forces our body to vibrate and experience the moment.

If you want to find happiness in everyday life, follow these steps and I guarantee you that you will be happier by the end of the week.

More About Finding Happiness

Featured photo credit: Preslie Hirsch via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Luay Rahil

Luay Rahil is a speaker, and the Founder of Lead with Integrity.

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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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