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Last Updated on December 17, 2019

How to Always Choose Happiness Even During Tough Times

How to Always Choose Happiness Even During Tough Times

We all have the desire to live happy lives. However, the effort and personal work we have to do to attain this desire can be challenging for us.

Is happiness a choice? Yes. But being happy requires more than just making the choice that “I choose to be happy”. Sustaining happiness in your life takes commitment, courage, a deep understanding of who you are and knowing your purpose in life; and this does not happen overnight. It is a life long journey.

By choosing to embrace happiness into your life, you are taking responsibility for your own contentment.

“Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” — Joseph Campbell

When you live a happy life, you have more resilience; your confidence and self-belief flourishes. And this enables you to successfully navigate your way through the curve balls (the tough times) that life throws at you.

Some of us are born smiling and some of us are not. We all have a Happiness Set Point that determines our overall well-being. Our happiness in life oscillates depending on what life events we are facing at the time. Our happiness can be significantly be diminished when we face traumatic events in life.

The good news is that although our general mood levels and well-being are partially determined by factors like genetics and upbringing, we can control our happiness. Yes, a good portion of our happiness is within our control.

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The 5 strategies below are actions you can adopt so you can live a flourishing and resilient life where you are able to face those “tough times” in life from a position of strength and of course happiness.

1. Determine What Happiness Means to You

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.” — William James- psychologist.

The first step in the journey to having a happy life is to determine what is important to you and what you value in life that brings you joy and happiness.

You don’t have to have all the answers, however you do need a sense of who you are and how you want to live your life.

Happiness can only come into your life when you like who you are, and you are choosing to be the best YOU can be. Until you have attained that state of belief in you, living a happy life will be at times in your life completely out of reach.

Yehuda Berg describes how the words that we use can either empower us or destroy us. Be aware of what words you are choosing to use to describe who you are:

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble”. — Yehuda Berg

2. Understand How Happiness Works for You

“Happiness is not a feeling it’s an action. In order to feel happy you have to do happy.” — Ben C. Fletcher D.Phil., Oxon

We all have very different personalities and this means that for some of us, we find it easier to be happy. A lot of research has been conducted on the relationship between happiness and different personalities and it is very complex.

There is, however, one aspect of happiness that most researchers agree with and that is, the level of happiness in a persons life depends on their vision of what a “good life is”. Once a person works this out, then it is easier for them to identify what they can do to bring happiness to their life.

Happiness is a consequence of what we do and how we behave. Trying to make yourself think happier is not going to work; taking action and doing something different in a more a positive way is more likely to bring happiness into your life.

3. Choose to Be Around the Right People

“The people you surround yourself with influence your behaviors, so choose friends who have healthy habits.” — Dan Buettner

Surround yourself with the people who reflect the person you want to be. Having positive and healthy relationships in life is the key to living a happy life. You do not want to spend any time with people who suck the happiness out of you.

Positive and healthy relationships are where you find the support and strength to face those tough times in life. If you don’t have positive relationships in your life, the chances of having happiness in your life are not that great.

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4. Commit to Helping Others

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Having a sense of purpose is important to having happiness in your life. In essence, the greater sense of purpose we feel, the happier we become.

Helping others, acts of kindness, compassion and service to others increase our wellbeing and sustains happiness in our life.

5. Choose to Take Care of Your Mind, Body, and Spirit

“Self-care is a deliberate choice to gift yourself with people, places, things, events, and opportunities that recharge our personal battery and promote whole health—body, mind, and spirit.” – Laurie Buchanan, PhD

A commitment to being the best person you can be is important to sustaining happiness in your life. Taking care of your body, mind and over wellbeing is crucial to you being the happiest person you can be.

If you don’t have a consistent type of physical activity in your life, then your mental energy, your emotional energy and your spiritual energy are depleted — in fact they are in the negative.

Your ability to deal with the tough times in your life is seriously compromised when you do not have the physical and emotion stamina to manage these setbacks.

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Practice these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

Final Thoughts

Living a happy resilient life is within your reach.

Having a solid foundation built on the premise of living a happy life is the key ingredient to successfully navigating your way through the tough times in life.

The above 5 strategies will help you on your journey to maintaining happiness in your life.

More About Staying Happy

Featured photo credit: Vince Fleming via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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