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Happiness Isn’t About How Much You Have, But How Much You Enjoy Life

Happiness Isn’t About How Much You Have, But How Much You Enjoy Life

Many of us believe that the more we have, the happier we are. But is it really the truth?

As economy develops, we seems to be able to live a better life. Earning money to buy the things that we desire, that’s how it goes. But do these material possessions always guarantee long-lasting happiness?

There might be a time that you have been saving money to buy yourself something, like a new gadget, a luxury car, or a grand apartment. Yes, you might be uplifted at the moment but the delight never lasts. The happiness recedes after a day, a week, a month, a year, or a decade. The new gadget will become old, the luxury car will depreciate, the grand apartment will become boring.

The truth is that although we have much more than the previous generations do, we are not happy as we are supposed to be.

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Probably we have fallen into traps which keep us away from the long-lasting happiness that we have been chasing for throughout our lives. Check if you have fallen into one of these 3 traps and try to get rid of them:

We play hard but become slaves of desires

There is a kind of people who always play hard and sometimes we call them the hedonist. The hedonists always strive to maximize pleasure and hunt for excitement to satisfy their desires without realizing the negative side of their behaviors. They only look for pleasure and try to escape from pain. It is not uncommon that they would gradually become the slaves of desires with only vanity left after the excitement fades away.

We work hard but suffer from the pain

The busy bee is the exact opposite of the hedonist. They work hard in exchange for more material possessions. They look for the pleasure that comes in the future but suffer from the present pain. They do not realize that they are just running on a treadmill, running hard but only marking time. Ironically, the material possessions that they work hard for can only give them temporary happiness.

We do nothing hard but lose the passion of life and the hope of future

Then, you might think that it is better not to play hard or work hard. However, being a nihilist can neither guarantee you long-lasting happiness. Being a nihilist is the worst case because the nihilists believe that life is meaningless. They do not enjoy what they have got at the moment, nor do they have any hope for the future. Without passion and hope, one can hardly have feel any kind of happiness.

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We spend years living our lives on this planet and it would be a pity if we cannot get a taste of what it is like to be truly happy. Easy come, easy go. The long-lasting happiness that keeps us living our lives passionately is something that worth us spending time to build. There is something we can do to pursue the happiness that lasts a lifetime.

1. Capture and collect positive emotions

    Capture your happy moments every day.

    To put it simply, the more positive emotions you capture in a day, the more likely your happiness sustains.

    Positive emotions are not limited to joy and excitement. Psychologists say that positive emotions also include joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. [1] These positive emotions can broaden and build our long-lasting psychological, intellectual, physical and social resources which increase our well-beings.

    Try to capture and collect your positive emotions every day. Keep a diary or take some photos. Instead of recording what happens, describe how you feel is rather more important. This will build your psychological resource and one day it will remind you what kinds of positive emotions you have experienced.

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    2. Engage with what you do

    Wanderers with no goals often feel unhappy. They disconnect with the world and tend to be over-absorbed in their emotions or abstract, unexplainable thoughts. They are on a road to nowhere.

    But instead, if we are more present in our lives and feel engaged with whatever we do or say, we can feel more grounded and happier. Being engaged prevents your mind from wandering and stops you from overthinking too much. On the other hand, when you are engaged in something, maybe your job or your hobby, you work for improvement and accomplishment. The pleasure of eventually achieving something gives you the feeling of pride and also makes whatever you are doing meaningful.

    3. Derive meaning from everything you do

    If we can’t find any meaning in what we do, we tend to have a sense of loss, thinking that we have wasted our time and energy. It is just like the nihilists who think life is meaningless and a waste of time.

    Frankly, there are some times that we really find something meaningless. Those things that are supposed to disappoint or frustrate us are exactly what keep us from the long-lasting happiness. Try to derive meaning from them and think in the other way round. Losing a competition might be a chance for you to realize your room for improvement; failing in a interview might be a chance for you to look for a better opportunity.

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    4. Build in-depth relationships with others

      An in-depth relationship makes you feel fearless.

      We always need some kinds of connections with people, friends, families, and lovers. But what makes us feel satisfied from relationships is not the quantity but the quality.

      Some might be satisfied with the fame but it is only the vanity. An in-depth relationship is a totally different story. It allows you to open up your mind fearlessly. You can have deep chats with your friends, hearing their stories and telling yours. You do not only gain practical support but also emotional supports from them. There is nothing better than being deeply known by someone who knows you better than yourself and speaks your mind.

      5. Broaden your definitions of success

      Success is not only about winning a game or trumping others. It can mean completing things you want to do or should do. It can be small or big, which does not really matter. It can be as simple as finishing a small task on your work. Sometimes people judge and they define the meaning of success as numbers. But bear in mind that you are the only one who can define your success.

      And by celebrating your accomplishments, even the smallest ones, every day can make you happier. Just because of finishing a small task on your work, you can celebrate it by giving yourself a little treat. It is the mark showing that you are capable of achieving something and giving you a sense of pride.

      Be happy and shine like a diamond

      Happiness is sometimes a very abstract idea and we might be lost on the road to the long-lasting happiness. The pursuit of happiness is a lifelong lesson that we all have to take. But once you and I get the clues, we will all shine like a diamond, with an everlasting shiny light that everyone would admire.

      Reference

      [1] The Huffington Post: What Are The Top 10 Positive Emotions?

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      Sheba Leung

      Translator. Sport lover. Traveler.

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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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