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10 Adorable Characteristics Happy People Have

10 Adorable Characteristics Happy People Have

Everybody wants to be happy, but how many people can say they are? A recent study shows that only one out of every three Americans is actually happy. On a list of the top 20 happiest countries in the world, America just barely ranks at #17. This is kind of ridiculous when you think about all the freedoms and conveniences Americans enjoy that less wealthy nations will never experience. Even if you are not happy, it is likely you know someone who is. Think about how much you adore them and why. Observe them closely for a while and you might notice a surprising amount of room for growth in your own habits. Here are some of the things happy people do to make life better for everyone around them.

They Are Nice

It might seem like an overly general term, but happy people are usually nice. They are well-liked and pleasant to be around. They are respectful, warm, considerate, and helpful. They don’t get jealous. They don’t waste time gossiping and complaining. They seem to have infinite patience and give freely of themselves. Traits like these can only stem from a deep-seated sense of contentedness. Nice people create a social climate that puts everyone else at ease.

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They Are Honest

True happiness cannot coexist with lies. Those who lie to themselves are more likely to lie to others and struggle with unhealthy relationships. Honesty starts with an informed sense of self. Happy people know who they are and aren’t afraid to show it. They are consistently themselves and do not feel the need to wear masks or pretend to be something they are not for any reason. Life is a lot less complicated when you allow yourself to be the same person at all times. By letting go of lies, happy people set an inspiring example which encourages those around them to flourish.

They Are Cooperative

Happy people are not overly concerned with dominating, yet they tend to come out on top. Victory is meaningless to the happy person without a team to share in the glory. There is a reason why it is customary for people who win awards to stand up and give a speech about all the people who helped them along the way. It is because nobody gets there alone, and taking all the credit for yourself is just mean. The idea of winning or dominating denotes pushing other people down on your way to the top. Those who recognize the efforts of others and freely share the joys of success tend to live much happier lives.

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They Have Beautiful Smiles

There is a huge difference between smiling for the camera and smiling as a function of happiness. Anyone can show their teeth. Happy people smile with their entire bodies, and sometimes with all the energy in a one-foot radius. A real smile cannot be faked. When you run around emanating a radiant glow in response to all the joys of life, you are bound to attract some admirers.

They Are Well Adjusted

Happy people revel in life’s small pleasures. This gives them access to sources of joy that pass most people by. At the same time, they don’t get bogged down by the petty little details that seem to keep plenty of others stuck in the dumps. They know what is worth savoring and what to disregard. Happy people have a rational sense of scale to keep them grounded. The resulting positive perspective can turn any problem into an opportunity for growth.

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They Surround Themselves with Happy People

Whether they actively seek out other folks with similar habits or they have the effect of raising the positive charge everywhere they go, happy people do not often stand alone. Glee is contagious. Groups of people tend to observe each other and subsequently imitate the most attractive behaviors they find in those around them. If enough folks agree to treat each other the way they would like to be treated, the result will be infectious and irresistible to bystanders.

They Are Spontaneous

A good relationship with the value of each passing moment is an essential component of happiness. If living in the present is so easy to do, why is it so many people are preoccupied with thoughts of the elsewhere, the future, and the past? Happy people are comfortable in their skin. They are content and aware in whatever moment they inhabit. This allows them to see opportunities for fun and adventure which others might overlook. It is part of why happy people are always the life of the party.

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They Are Good Listeners

Communication is about more than just barking a bunch of orders and wondering why nobody is listening. Harmony cannot exist in a vacuum. Can you imagine trying to sing in a barbershop quartet without being able to hear the other singers? In order to create a resonating chord, you must listen to what is happening around you and find just the right place for your own vibrations. Happy people are always looking for new perspectives as a way of informing their own. The feelings of others matter deeply to them because they know the greater good involves far more than just their own desires. Happy people have made a lifelong commitment to constantly learning, and they know the only way to do this is to be quiet and listen.

They Expect Less

It stands to reason that if you expect less, you will be satisfied with less. This mindset allows a more sustainable and unmaterialistic approach to life. Those who focus on what others should be doing for them are often disappointed more often than they are satisfied. True happiness comes from within, not from deeds or objects originating outside the self. Happy people know this, and they expect more from themselves than they do from external sources. They are more likely to accept than to demand, simply because a state of acceptance is a much healthier place to be than one of constant unmet demands.

They Don’t Judge

Nobody likes being judged. This is because the majority of judgments we make about each other are false and misinformed. Happy people understand through their own experiences that life is a perpetual learning process and everything we go through changes us in some way. With this knowledge, it just doesn’t make sense to hold a bunch of grudges. Happy people accept that we all struggle with different weaknesses, and everyone has the potential to figure things out in due time. This makes happy people better and more patient companions than those who are always judging others for their weaknesses.

The road to happiness is not an easy one to travel. It requires a sense of humble honesty which does not come naturally to everyone. Happy people are popular and successful for a reason. Anyone who smiles that much has got to be doing something right. It’s time you realized how much you have to learn from them. Happy people do not want you to be jealous. They want you to share in their joy by opening yourself up to the lessons all around you. They want to learn from you while inspiring you with their example. This is why we love happy people, and the world would probably stop turning without them. Hug your local happy person today. Let them take you by the hand and lead you toward a better life.

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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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