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10 Things We Mistake for Happiness and How to Correct Them

10 Things We Mistake for Happiness and How to Correct Them

Happiness is one of the many things whose meaning can be different for one person from the next. What makes one happy may not exactly be what another person has in mind, and we take different routes to get our share of bliss. Some are fine with delayed gratification while others want happiness right away.

It’s perfectly all right to want happiness now, but to get there, we need to let go of some things or stop doing them altogether. While there are many ways to be happy, we tend to overlook the big picture and bury our toes in the warm sand that is temporary happiness. That part of us that settles is where we trade true happiness for greater joy. Below are ten things we sometimes confuse with happiness and ways to free ourselves from them.

1. A job you don’t like doing.

Sure, paying the bills and keeping a healthy savings account are valid reasons for why you should get a job, but it’s equally important that what you do for a living makes you happy. It’s simple: happiness at work makes you more productive, makes your coworkers and clients like you, and it helps you get closer to success.

Sometimes, however, the same job that you gave an arm and leg to snag becomes the thing you dread doing the next day. To be fair, it’s perfectly normal to grumble a bit about having to work over time all of a sudden, or being given a last-minute deadline on a Friday night, but if you can’t get through the day without whining about your job and still claim that you love it, it’s time to rethink your reasons for why you’re staying in that company. The security of having a job—any job—is not always synonymous to being happy with it.

On the other hand, just because you’ve been feeling downtrodden at work doesn’t always mean you should quit. Sometimes, all you need to do is to move things around. It can be changing your routine into something that will make you more efficient, or maybe a transfer to a different department where you’ll also fit. You can also consider taking a vacation. If none of these work, resort to exploring other career opportunities.

2. A relationship that isn’t working.

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, but this reason is prone to abuse simply because its truth makes it a convenient excuse. Most relationships, if not all, begins as if it’s the first day of Spring, where the flowers start to bloom and the days are always sunny. However, it is only when you subject it through all four seasons will you know if it can weather anything. Many couples are able to bend with the blows, then again, not all of them manage to make peace with with the hectic waves that comes with a relationship.

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The point is this: though people mature as individuals, there is a chance that this growth will not manifest in the relationship, and even if it does, there is no guarantee that you will enjoy the benefits together. At times, it is those changes that make us realize that we want someone else, not necessarily because what we have isn’t good (although there are times when that is the case), but simply because we need a partner that complements us better. It pays to assess your relationship once in a while, and to do everything you can to save it. But if the relationship is beyond salvation, you have to have enough guts to face the truth, and the integrity to save each other from more pain by calling it quits.

3. The latest in everything.

For the record, there is nothing wrong with being able to afford the latest smartphone, car, or that ridiculously-priced espresso machine, for there can be unparalleled joy in the experience brought to you by the world’s finest. The thing is sometimes we get a little too absorbed by our fear of missing out and believe that the best way to stay relevant is by having everything new behind glass display cases.

It still helps to ask ourselves if we truly need the things we want to blow money on, or if we just want to scratch a temporary itch. Regardless of where your money comes from, it’s important that you get optimal value from the things you pay for. It’s normal to want to buy things that tickle your fancy but if you don’t see yourself maximizing its utility, reconsider the purchase. However, if it does improve the quality of your life, then by all means put it in your cart.

4. Watching too much television.

4 watching too much television

    Television has gotten a lot of flak thanks to programs that capitalize on our insatiable need to be validated at all costs. To be fair, there a lot of good programs out there, ones that will rehydrate your interest in the arts and in science, or teach you how to cook a mean slab of rib eye.

    There are times, however, when we mindlessly flip through channels and indulge ourselves by watching shows without giving what we see and hear much thought. We rely a bit too much on shows to explain everything for us and take this as the ultimate truth. This prevents us from exercising discernment on whether what we’re watching makes sense and how much (or little) value it adds to our lives.

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    As powerful as TV is as a medium, being hooked on it can cause a dent on our imagination by blurring it. There is merit in assessing the kinds of shows we watch and in asking what benefit we’re getting from them. It’s human to find yourself envious of the lives led by people you see on TV but if it’s turning you into a bitter case of couch potato, perhaps it’s time to turn the box off.

    5. An obsession with perfection.

    One of the funny things about pursuing perfection is that no matter how many times we are told that nobody and nothing is perfect (except maybe Emma Watson), it doesn’t stop us from wanting to achieve it. This is a good trait to a degree, but if our fixation on wanting everything to be perfect gets in the way of actually accomplishing things, then we won’t really achieve anything.

    This is where practice comes in, but we also have to remember that the goal of practicing is not just the mastery of a process but also adjusting to changes that are required to attain perfection. Speaking of process, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right the first time. More often than not, it is the criticisms in our work that lead us to the next step to improvement.

    6. Complaining without acting.

    6 complaining without acting

      There is nothing essentially wrong with complaining, and it has its benefits too. It can be a way of pointing out the weaknesses in a system, and that they can be improved. The problem occurs when all people do is to complain as if they’re getting paid to do it.

      You see, complaining is one thing but doing something about it is a different story. The former is easier to do than the latter and a lot of people are comfortable with putting the spotlight on what is wrong in a system that they are a part of. The thing is if we don’t proactively become part of the solution, we just end up whining and annoying everyone else who is willing to listen to us. If you have the nerve to talk to others about what you think is wrong, it’s time to muster the courage to escalate it to more capable hands.

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      7. Putting up with friends who drag you down.

      For many of us, letting go of a friend is harder than breaking up with a significant other. This doesn’t mean that you have to put up with your friends bad habits though. It may be true that as friends, we should accept and love them for who they are, but there are cases where we have to choose between watching them harm themselves and pushing us off the cliff’s edge.

      For instance, some people can be a bit too clingy and make their friends feel bad when they can’t be there for them. However, being dependable is different from coddling. While we expect our buddies to be on our side, we can’t expect them to put their lives on hold every single time. Of course, it’s worthwhile to talk to our friends to iron out misunderstandings and to give them enough room to change, but if all else fails maybe it’s time to bail out on them one last time.

      8. Having too many friends on social media.

      Never has making friends and staying connected been easier until social media happened, but you got to admit that it’s not always the best way. It can be quite flattering to have a lot of followers in your social network until all you see on your dashboard is crazy narcissistic behavior put on display.

      Of course, social media isn’t bad per se. On the other hand, it can be an easy source of angst, frustration even. A lot of people have picked up the habit of posting everything that goes on with their life, and while it can be harmless to find out what your friend had for lunch two hours ago, not everyone is in the mood for fifty versions of a single selfie all the time. There are many other ways social media can drive people into their wits’ end, but the point is you don’t have to bear with them. Unfollow and Unfriend if you must and be ready with an honest explanation.

      9. Pursuing an interest to please someone else.

      Being invited by someone to join a project or to get into a new hobby can be good, especially if you want to become more interesting or you need the distraction, but if you’re only doing it to please someone else, you risk awkwardness and drama when the excitement wears off and you want out.

      To be fair, trying out new things even if you didn’t initially plan on it can turn out well. However, if you find yourself getting less interested by the session, you might want to consider quitting. Explaining it to the person who invited you may be hard, but you owe them your honesty, and you owe yourself the opportunity to pursue things that can really make you happy.

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      10. Making fun of other people.

      10 making fun of other people

        Sense of humor is one of the few things that will never go out of style, and it’s amazing to be funny and to have friends who can crack you up. Sometimes though, we become too comfortable with our funniness. We barely notice that we cross certain lines. The thing is we don’t realize this until someone calls it out or when we start losing friends one by one.

        The ability to make people laugh is a skill, and it is a good sign of creativity and confidence. However, insult-based humor can be offensive and you can’t expect everyone to be a good sport about it. Instead of being defensive when you hurt somebody’s feelings, own up to your mistake and apologize. You can still be funny without rubbing people the wrong way.

        If you think about it, happiness is easy but sometimes it is what we do to achieve it that makes it complicated. Simplifying things can be a good start, and if you find yourself too lazy to change, just remember that life is short to be miserable.

        Featured photo credit: happy pills via c2.staticflickr.com

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        Last Updated on April 11, 2019

        How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

        How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

        Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

        I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

        I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

        Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

        How Communication Skills Help Your Success

        Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

        Create a Positive Experience

        Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

        When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

        What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

        Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

        As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

        Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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        Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

        Help Leadership Skills

        It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

        Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

        As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

        Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

        If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

        Build Better Teams

        Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

        In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

        If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

        When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

        Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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        How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

        There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

        Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

        1. Listen

        Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

        Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

        People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

        Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

        Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

        2. Know Your Audience

        Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

        Here is a good way to think about it:

        Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

        You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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        3. Minimize

        I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

        He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

        Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

        State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

        The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

        4. Over Communicate

        So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

        What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

        Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

        Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

        Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

        There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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        5. Body Language

        The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

        When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

        In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

        When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

        Conclusion

        Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

        Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

        There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

        Now go communicate your way to success.

        More Resources About Effective Communication

        Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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