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15 Simple Things To A Happier You In 2017

15 Simple Things To A Happier You In 2017

In a world where life is going 100 mph, it’s often hard to be present. Most people don’t know what ‘being present’ even means. People are so bombarded with distractions from daily life that their minds are full, their hearts are sad, and their anxiety levels are soaring.

People are striving to be happier, but they don’t know how to achieve it. “If I get this job, I will be happier.” “If I buy that new iPhone, that new dress, or go on that dream holiday, I will be happier.” “If I lose 6lbs, I will be happier.” “If my partner gives me more attention, I will be happier.” Often, the happiness that we get from attaining those things is only short lived. Little do we realize that the power to be happier is inside us; it starts with us, it ends with us, and no material item, person, or place can make us happier – it has to come from within. Try some of these simple things for a happier you in 2017.

1. Embrace yourself.

They say if we spoke to others how we talked to ourselves, we wouldn’t have any friends. Make 2017 the year that you are kind to yourself. Say nice things to yourself, love yourself for who you are. Take a moment to realize how amazing your body is and instead of focusing on how it looks, thank it for everything else. Our bodies do so much more for us than we give it credit for. Practice self-love, find beautiful words to say to yourself, and ignore that “horrible voice” that just brings self-doubt.

2. Be kind to yourself.

Some days we are on point; we can seem to glide through the day and be the best version of ourselves. Other days, everything seems to go wrong. Learn not to punish yourselves on those days; listen to your body and ask it what it needs. If you need a day on the sofa in your pj’s watching movies, then do it. If you can’t be bothered to do the endless list of chores that you have set yourself, then don’t do it. We strive too much to be perfect, but life isn’t like that. Be kind to yourself this year!

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3. Don’t compare yourselves to others.

In a world where social media can make other people’s lives look perfect, we need to remember that it’s often fake; just like the movies, it’s often not real life. Comparing yourself to others is the worst thing that you can do for your self-esteem. Take a moment to look at all your personal achievements, no matter how small they may seem. We all have something, every single one of us. Spend less time looking at other people lives, and start to realize how great you are!

4. Don’t always listen to the negative noise.

We have an inbuilt “pain in the butt” noise called ‘self-doubt.” That noise is there for a reason; to help us survive. However, in a world where there is no longer a Saber-tooth tiger chasing us, we don’t need to fear for our lives as much as our brain thinks we do; be mindful of this. That self-doubting voice can get really loud sometimes, but find the strength to push through it. You got this; you are braver and stronger than you believe!

5. Learn to love yourself.

I say this in a non-narcissistic way of course. Loving yourself is not posting selfies onto social media looking absolutely fabulous and hashtagging the living daylights out of the picture. Self-love is about being kind to yourself and nurturing yourself; it’s about doing things that make you happy. Spending time with friends and family, walking in nature, yoga…whatever it is, make 2017 a year where you do more of this. Appreciate yourself for the wonderfully unique person that you are.

6. Go for walks in nature.

It’s so important that we take some time most days to switch off and walk in nature. Don’t put pressure on yourself to go for a long walk or hike, just start small. If walking is new to you, just try a few minutes a couple of times a week; aim to do this without your phone or music device. Listen to the birds and the trees, and let your senses awaken. We are so connected to our phones these days that we are aren’t giving ourselves any free time to “just be.”

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Whenever you can, kick off your shoes and walk barefoot. There is something so enriching and calming about walking barefoot; some call it “earthing.” When we walk barefoot on the earth, we can be recharged by the planet. Make sure that you look up; we are all so used to looking down at our phones that we forget to look above us. Watch the clouds, notice the birds, and stare at the stars; your inner child will thank you for it!

7. Try meditation this year.

So many people avoid meditation, since they feel they can’t switch off. Even thinking about mindfulness or meditation can be so daunting; our minds are now so full of data and images from other people’s lives, that our thoughts are in constant overdrive! The very best thing that you can do for yourself is to give your mind a little holiday! Even a few minutes a day, a couple of times each week is a step in the right direction.

8. Don’t go to bed or wake up with your phone.

We have now become so surgically attached to our phones that we check them as soon as we wake. Our ancestors would wake with the sun; now we wake with the blue light from our phones. Take a few moments to wake up naturally. Hug your partner or your dog, cuddle your kids, open the blinds and watch the world wake up. Give yourself some time until you start connecting with the outside world, if only for a few minutes. Try and leave your phone out of the bedroom; it’s difficult, but worth a try, and you might find that you fall asleep quicker and sleep better!

9. Look at yourself naked in the mirror and thank your body.

In a society where we see “perfect bodies” all over magazines, television, and social media, it can make us feel insecure about our bodies, but they do so much more for us than just “look good.” Bodies keep us alive, and they allow most of us to walk and talk and connect with others. We have arms to hug the people that we love the most, we have legs to allow us to walk in nature, swim, and run. We have eyes to see and ears to hear, yet we get angry at ourselves because we don’t have the perfect beach body. Embrace your incredible body. Stand naked in the mirror and thank your body for all the wonderful things it does for you. Remember that even the people in the magazines and on social media don’t look that, either! Be real, be you, and be kind to yourself.

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10. See yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you.

Our “negative voice” can be so mean to us. Look at yourself from the eyes of someone who loves you: your parents, your grandparents, friends, partner, or children. See how much they love you for who you are. The things that you may dislike about yourself may be the very thing that makes you perfect to them. You could even ask them, “What is something that you love about me?” Their answers could surprise you!

11. Connect with your children more, instead of your iPhone.

You are right in the middle of finding the perfect Instagram filter. You captured the perfect shot, and you are hashtagging the heck out of it and uploading it to social media.Your little three-year-old, who’s just given you a perfect smile for the picture, runs over and wants you to look at the dead spider with missing legs. You know what happens next, right? You shrug them off and tell them you are busy. No one is perfect, so let’s not beat ourselves up here. However, sometimes happiness is found in the simplest of things, and spending two minutes talking about where the spider’s other legs might be, or where its Mommy and Daddy may have gone, could make your soul smile. Trying to be more present with our children can make us happier. Children see the world from a different perspective than us; they notice things: clouds, nature, dead spiders with missing legs, and we all need a bit more of that in our lives.

12. Listen to your gut!

Our guts are so intuitive, yet we’ve stopped listening to them as much as we should. Instead, we listen to that negative inner voice which only creates doubt and anxiety. In 2017, make it a year that you are going to listen to your gut; go with it, trust it, and believe in it, because it has the answers to your problems that your head hasn’t quite worked out yet.

13. Do more of what makes you feel good.

If coffee makes you feel great, then drink it and enjoy it, but if makes you feel edgy and jittery, think about a different drink. If alcohol works for you then great, but if it doesn’t and it makes your feel anxious and depressed the next day, then you know what to do. If pumping iron in the gym makes you feel awesome, then do more of that, but if it doesn’t and you are the sort of person who needs the grounding and calming from yoga, then do that. This is your life, your journey, and your body and mind. Feed your soul with things that work for you.

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14. Take a moment to breathe.

In the western world, we have become a society that does a million things at once. We can achieve so much while waiting for the kettle to boil. We answer emails and texts while in the bathroom. No one is beating you up for this, but we aren’t allowing ourselves any quiet time every single time we do this. Taking just ten slow breaths in and out can help us to achieve a calmer mindset. So, next time you want to try and fit in twenty things while the kettle boils, just take some time to stop and breathe instead. Or, next time you are at the traffic lights and you reach for your phone, stop and use this time to practice slow breathing. Try and get slow breathing into your daily routine: shower, brush teeth, slow breathing.

15. Start to believe that you are enough.

Billions of people share this planet, yet you are so unique that there is only one of you. You are on this planet for a reason; only you know that reason, so embrace it, and if you don’t know what it is yet, make 2017 the year that you find it! Be proud of who you are, be proud of your achievements in life, no matter how small. We are all part of this planet; we are all connected, and we all have the ability to love. It’s one of the greatest gifts that humanity can offer, but this year, make sure that you love you!

2017 can be a year for great progression! In numerology, 2017 is considered as year 1 in the new 9-year life cycle, which means it’ll be a year for plenty of new elements and lots of hope! The best gift that you can give yourself is not to dwell on anything that happened last year. Whether 2016 was a good year or a bad year for you, it is now in the past, and this is a new year with new hopes, dreams, and opportunities.

Try not to worry about what will be or what has been, just aim to be more present in the everyday moments. This year, embrace yourself and give yourself a pat on the back for all that is great about you. Be your biggest fan, because with a little self-love and self-care your happiness will reflect off of you like sunshine!

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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Susy Parker

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

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Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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