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10 Surefire Ways To Be Unhappy in Life

10 Surefire Ways To Be Unhappy in Life

For the original full-length article by Celestine: 10 Surefire Ways To Be Unhappy in Life

Are there times when you feel beaten up and let down by life? Are there times when you feel unhappy and it seems like nothing can cheer you up?

While most of us (I assume) want to lead a happy life, many of us often do things (whether subconsciously or consciously) that make us unhappy — myself included. We may think our times of unhappiness are the result of things not going our way, but the truth is we are the ones making ourselves unhappy.

Today’s guide is to bring your awareness to top 10 things you may be doing which are directly or indirectly making you unhappy (or less happy than you can be).

Review them carefully and ask yourself if you do them. Be conscious of such occurrences and learn to deal with them in the right manner.

1. Complain (Harp on bad things that happen)

Do you have a habit of complaining when things don’t go to plan?

Living in Singapore, I’m cultivated in a complaining culture here. People tend to complain as first reaction to things that don’t go to plan. It may be complaining to friends in daily banter, complaining to family, complaining to authorities, complaining to corporations as a consumer, and so on.

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However, the real problem in many people’s complaints has nothing to do with the weather, transport, or unreasonable costs. Sure there may be a basis behind the complaints, but my point is even if those “issues” people complain about get resolved, the complaining wouldn’t stop there. People would eventually find something else to complain about, because that’s just the way they are.

Tackle “complainism” through these steps:

  1. Be conscious of times when you complain. Awareness is the first step to solving any problem.
  2. Understand the source of negativity. Out of the 1000 incidents you experience in a week, why do you complain about this particular thing/person/situation? Is there a hidden grievance waiting for you to address?
  3. Fix the offending issue. What can you do about the unhappy situation? Less talk, more action, will solve the issue.
  4. Focus on positive, not negative, things. What you give attention to will create more of the same thing. So if you spend 5 minutes being frustrated at X thing, you’re going to create more frustration, like seeds that sprout into seedlings. On the other hand, if you spend the same time on things that make you happy, that bring you joy, you’re going to get more happiness and joy.

2. Avoid your problems

Have something you can’t handle? Hide from it! Eat your heart out! Drown yourself with other activities! Sleep it away! Work! Jump into the next relationship! Put it off to a later date! Whatever you do, don’t deal with the problem!

Avoiding your problems doesn’t make you happier because it doesn’t solve anything. It only perpetuates the problems.

Instead of avoiding them, acknowledge the presence of those problems first. Then, identify baby steps to address them, and take these steps. One step, however small, is progress when made in the right direction. Refer to point #5 for a list of helpful tips to handle problems.

3. Compare with others

Do you have a habit of comparing yourself with others?

“Wow, he/she is doing so well in his/her career. I wish I can have half the success he/she has.”

“Why am I not as rich as this person? It’s not fair that there are people born into riches but not me.”

“Why does this person have everything going for him/her while I don’t?”

“Why is it that others have no problem attracting people they love while I seem to attract the worst people?”

I think it’s pointless to compare because you are not other people, and other people are not you. Rather than feel discouraged by the things others have that you don’t have, think about the life you want to have. Use others as inspiration in your vision if you want, but remember this is your vision for yourself.

Once your vision is created, take the necessary steps to realize it. Check out my seven-part successful goal achievement series on ESPER where I share my personal framework on how to achieve goals with success.

4. Worry about things that have not happened yet

There’s a line between hypothesizing scenarios to plan for the future and overwhelming yourself with self-conjured events that have not even happened yet (and possibly will never happen). When you spend all that time worrying about the future, you aren’t living in the present.

Anticipate varying scenarios and plan for them where necessary, but don’t get carried away with the bad stuff. When planning, ask yourself: “What can I do such that [X negative scenario] does not occur?” vs. getting swirled up in fear. That’s the whole point of planning – to identify steps to achieve your desired results, not to psyche yourself out.

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5. Let your problems overwhelm you

Everyone faces problems. You are not being real if you think there are people who do not face difficulties. Even for people who have “made it” (whatever you define that to be), they do so because they have learned to handle their problems, not because they don’t face problems.

6. Do things you don’t love

You would think it’s obvious that if you want to happy, you should just do things that you love.

But a lot of people don’t do that. They stay on in jobs they don’t love. They do things they don’t enjoy. They hang out with people they don’t like (see next point #7). They put up with situations they hate. Naturally, they become unhappy.

From now on, stop doing things that make you unhappy. Start doing more things that make you happy. If you don’t like your job, make plans to switch jobs. If you don’t like to hang out with X, stop hanging out with him/her. If you don’t like to eat KFC, then stop eating KFC. Take ownership of your life and stop letting other things/people rule you.

7. Stay on in relationships that no longer serve you

Are you staying on in relationships that aren’t making you happy? If so, there’s a big problem.

There’s a big difference between adapting to develop a relationship and compromising yourself to the point where you become miserable. (By relationship, I’m referring to friendships, relationships with family members, love, etc, not just romantic relationships.) If you’re constantly upset/miserable/unhappy/discouraged/disappointed/angry/frustrated in a relationship, evaluate if this relationship is one you want to stay on.

8. Try to change other people

You can never change anyone. You can do things in hopes that they will change, but ultimately it is their choice on whether they want to change or not. Doing things with the expectation that others will change is to set yourself up for unhappiness.

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Even if people do change in response to your actions, it doesn’t solve the problem. While you may be happy initially, you will find something to nitpick on after a while.  That’s because the problem isn’t them – the problem is your desire to change them. In the end, you spend half your life trying to change others, leaving only one person unhappy – you.

Your desire to change others stems from an improvement you wish to see about yourself, in your life. So rather than change others, ask yourself: “What is the change I want to see about myself, about my life?” Then, work on that. You will find that as you work through the changes, the things that used to bother you about others will no longer be an issue.

9. Try to please others

Just like changing others will not bring you long-term happiness, trying to please others will never make you happy either.

If there is someone who is displeased with you, the immediate answer isn’t to change yourself. First, understand the source of displeasure. Is it something you agree with? If it is, then you may want to work on those issues – but only because you want to do it for yourself.

If you disagree with the feedback, then stand by your viewpoint! Don’t change yourself just because someone has different expectations on how you should be. You live for yourself, not for other people.

10. Attach yourself to goals/ outcomes /things /statuses /people

Nothing is permanent. By attaching yourself to something that has not happened yet, may or may not happen in the future, and will not persist even after it happens (because nothing is forever, except our spiritual bodies), you set yourself up for unhappiness.

Rather than fixate yourself on the external world and get into a mad frenzy when it changes against your wishes, focus on your underlying intentions instead. For example, don’t attach yourself to your partner, but the intention for a loving relationship. Don’t attach yourself to money, but the notion of abundance.

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When you do that, you will become a fuller person – One who lives in the present (not the past or future), one who lives for him/herself (not for other people), one who lives as him/herself (not as what others want you to be), and one who knows what he/she stands for (not defined by objects, status, or roles).

More by this author

Celestine Chua

Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

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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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