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10 Things Happy People Are Doing Differently

10 Things Happy People Are Doing Differently

We all want to be happy.

But have you ever noticed that some people seem to have a knack for being happy in any situation compared to the average person? Do you have a friend that seems to be always up no matter what?

We’re all genetically and psychologically (through our life experiences) pre-disposed to a certain level of happiness, but here are 10 things that happy people are doing differently which help them crush life:

1. They understand that everything is impermanent – emotions, events, and even themselves

In Buddhism there is something called the Law of Nature, which states that everything is impermanent and arises just to pass away. Think about it – you’re never angry forever, that vacation to Hawaii isn’t infinitely long, and you yourself (spoiler alert) will die one day.

This doesn’t mean that they refuse to do anything saying “What’s the point, it’ll just end?”. They just realize that they should enjoy what they have while it lasts to the best of their extent, and that when something bad happens, it won’t last forever.

2. They set internally guided and controllable goals

In his book, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, William B. Irvine says that the happiest people set goals that are completely within their control. Those that become deflated by their goals are people who set them and rely on external items outside their control.

So for example, you can’t control if you get a promotion, but you can control how many hours you work, asking your boss for the promotion, and taking on extra tasks.

You can’t control when you will find a boyfriend or girlfriend, but you can control how many people you talk to each day, whether you ask for their contact information, and if you follow up with them for a date.

You can’t control when you lose 10 pounds, but you can control how many times you go to the gym a week and how many doughnuts you eat (well… unless if it’s a cheat day).

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By setting goals that you have complete control over, you can become happier because you know that there is only one person you rely on to make those goals a reality: you.

3. They understand that life is a journey, and they focus on enjoying the process and grind versus the results

Speaking of goals, many of us get too focused on achieving something and don’t enjoy the build up to it. Or we get so focused on one thing, and then don’t see all the little things that added up to make the goal a reality. Or, maybe we get so focused on achieving something that we highly under-estimate the amount of work that we have to put in.

Many of us fail at goals we set because we don’t realize the amount of work that needs to be put in. Getting a 6-pack takes hours in the gym. Becoming a writer takes hours at the keyboard. Becoming a surfer takes many, MANY crashes face first into the sea.

The happiest people are those that find joy in the process of attaining the goals, so that even if they don’t reach them, they are happy throughout the entire time. This also lets them enjoy what they are doing right NOW, versus waiting for happiness to come later (hint: hitting that goal NEVER makes you as happy as you think it will).

As Mark Manson said, “If life is a hamster wheel, then the goal isn’t to actually get anywhere, it’s to find a way to enjoy running.

4. They take full responsibility for their lives and everything that has happened and will happen to them

This is the difference between feeling powerful or like a victim, and one’s happiness is directly proportional to the amount of control you feel you have over your life.

Are you single? It’s up to you to learn how to talk to people, get over your anxiety, and set up dates.

Are you overweight? You can look up work out routines, sign up for a gym, and get a personal trainer.

Do you not like your job? You can find others or find the resources you need to create your own business.

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When you take responsibility for everything in your life, you know that you can change whatever you want – you can create any life you want as long as you’re willing to do WORK and change your priorities.

5. They focus on what is good about any situation

Cue the trite “looking at the glass half full vs. half empty” saying. In a world up to interpretation, you can look at things however you want. And because your thoughts determine your emotions and mood, this can lead to drastically different lives for people who have the same thing happen to them… but they interpret it differently.

For example compare someone who is reasonably happy to someone who is frought with anxiety:

They have a lot of phone numbers for potential dates

Happy: Oh my God this is awesome! So many people I could meet!

Anxious: Crap, too many numbers. How the hell will I ever have time to meet them?

They are free to travel wherever they want for work

Happy: I have so much freedom and can see so much!

Anxious: Argh I need to make the right decision and what happens if I can’t see other stuff? I mean this is probably SUPER important and I need to make the perfect location selection. I should probably collate library resources and do a week of research…

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The anxious stuff is from personal experience, and it’s a bit funny I admit, but some people aren’t aware of how they think! Your view and interpretations creates your life.

Be careful.

6. They understand that their mind is like a computer or screen creating the reality they see, and what you put in is what you get out

Continuing on from #5, happy people understand that if they always think negatively, they will always be negative. Your mind is a computer and all it knows is what you put in to it: Garbage in, garbage out.

Hence, happy people are very careful about what thoughts they focus on. If you have ever meditated (if not, start NOW), you will know that a billion thoughts are always coming and going, but we don’t have to grab on to them if we don’t want to.

The thoughts you focus on create you mood and reality, so happy people consciously aim to discard as many negative thoughts as possible. You can read more about this in the classic essay “As A Man Thinketh” by James Allen.

7. They are grateful for what they have and what happens to them

In his TED talk, David Steindl-Rast focuses on how it’s not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness/gratitude that makes us happy.

Happy people purposely practice gratitude for everything they have and anything unexpected that happens to them: from the fact that someone offered to pay for their dinner, to moments with a significant other, to even HAVING a significant other, to just being able to see, hear, or breathe.

By doing this, they are always filled with joy and wonder about the world, and they are deeply happy. It also helps them get out of negative moods quicker.

8. They are empathetic and caring, but not to their detriment

Volunteering our time or helping others gives a deep sense of happiness. Happy people are empathetic and understanding of the issues of others, but they limit their time and boundaries – they take care of themselves and their needs first, and then they take care of others next. They understand that they can’t help anyone if they are in a state of disarray or are pre-occupied.

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9. They know that they are responsible for creating their own happiness, but understand that others play an important role

While happy people know they must create the circumstances that result in their happiness (a specific job, the means to live in a certain place, financial support,…), they understand that other people play a role in their happiness: their family and friends who support them in tough times, intimate relationships for sex, intimacy, and love, and clients or bosses who pay them for work.

While they know they have to go out and get what they want, they understand that other people will always be a part of their happiness.

10. They understand that they can only control so much in life, but they can always control their reaction

Those that are deeply afraid of the world try to control and micro-manage everything, but in reality, we are only able to control so much in life. Happy people realize they can’t control things that are external (other things, people, or events), but they are 100% in control of their reaction to whatever happens.

So, they are in control of setting boundaries or saying “No” when people are being rude.

They are in control of finding more work when a client leaves them.

They are in control of not reacting on their impulse to punch through glass windows when they are angry.

And as such, they can continuously move forward despite what happens in life.

More by this author

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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