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13 Surprising Ways to Make Happiness a Habit

13 Surprising Ways to Make Happiness a Habit

You know how some people seem to be happy no matter what happens to them?  They always have a positive outlook on life. They seem to enjoy things more than you and me, and their relationships with people thrive in a way that we only imagine.  You’ve probably wondered what it is about them that makes happiness so easy for them.  Well it turns out there is no special trick to happiness.  Just like anything else, it’s just something that we have to learn to make a habit.  Incorporate the following 14 behaviors into your daily life and you’ll find that happiness habits surround you.

1. Change Your Perspective

There are plenty of reasons to not be happy.  Someone cut you off on the way to work.  You got a ticket.  You made a bad grade or got a less than stellar performance review, etc.  The interesting thing about not feeling happy when these things happen is that you aren’t in control.  You have chosen to let external forces dictate how you feel about life.  When you learn that you have control over these things, simply by changing your perspective, the whole world changes.  For example, take the “someone cut you off on the way to work” scenario.  By making an excuse for that person, such as that they are rushing to get their pregnant wife to the hospital (or some other emergency), you excuse their wrongdoing and are not negatively affected by it.  Hopefully they make it to the hospital in time and bring a beautiful child into the world.  It turns out Your Perception IS Your Reality.

2. Get Some Sunlight

Sunlight makes us happy.  UV rays hit the skin and the body begins to produce vitamin D ( vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression, among other things).  When the sunlight hits your eyes it signals to your brain to slow down secretion of melatonin (a hormone that helps you sleep), and increases secretion of serotonin (a hormone associated with happiness and wakefulness).  What does all of this mean?  Getting more sun will make you happier.  If you aren’t getting at least 15 minutes of sun exposure on your skin per day, it’s a good idea to try and get out more.  Take a walk during lunch, sit outside for a few minutes instead of watching TV.  Make time for it.

3. Make a Life List

Life lists are awesome.  They are the theme park of life planning.  Think about the things you want to experience and accomplish before you die.  While it may sound like a morbid pursuit, it’s actually pretty life changing and inspirational.  Especially when you make plans to start checking things off your life list.

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4. Learn a New Hobby

Hobbies are fun ways to experience happiness.  Whether you love to cook, play games, paint, or anything else, the joy of learning a new hobby is one of the most enjoyable endeavors you can embark upon.  When starting a new hobby, focus on the joy of just experiencing something new. There is something magical about being a “newbie,” because with every experience there is something to be gained.

5. Focus on Appreciation and Gratefulness

Learning to show appreciation and to be grateful for what you have is, in itself, a reward.  People who express appreciation and take time be grateful are happier and have more positive outlooks on life. Start with a simple experiment.  Every night before you go to bed, write down something that happened throughout the day that you are grateful for.  It wont take long before that habit changes your entire perspective.

6. Meditate Regularly

While meditation often gets the reputation of being spiritual and strange to those who don’t partake, it has benefits for practically everyone who gives it a real chance.  I don’t see meditation as spiritual. I see it as therapeutic.  I sit quietly for 5-10 minutes per day (I don’t time it‒I just do it), and focus on me.  Sometimes I close my eyes; sometimes I don’t.  But I focus on my breathing, I take stock on how I feel (physically and mentally), and I visualize what my day is going to look like.  It’s almost like a pre-game ritual.  Try it.  You wont be disappointed.

Check out How to Meditate: 10 Steps to Meditate Anywhere

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7. Embrace Your Fears

Fear is one of the big zappers of happiness.  Fear leads us to worry, causing stress and a focus on negativity.  One way to stop fear is to begin welcoming it into your life.  Obviously you don’t want to jump into the deep end on this one, but start small and start tackling your fears.  You’ll find yourself stronger, more confident, and happier with every fear tackled.

8. Smile More

Where I live, it’s a common occurrence to exchange smiles with anyone you come into contact with. I’ve traveled enough to know this isn’t a common practice everywhere, but I think it should be. Smiling is easy to do, feels good, tells your brain you’re happy, and can be the one happy thing the receiver of your smile sees that day.  You can brighten up the lives of people around you with just a flash of your pearly whites.  With that kind of power comes great responsibility.  Use it, and use it often!

Check out 7 Benefits of Smiling and Laughing that You Didn’t Know About

9. Exercise Regularly

There are numerous benefits to exercise.  I’m sure I don’t have to convince you of that.  Stress relief, health benefits, etc.  But my personal favorite benefit is the release of endorphins.  They are natural pain and stress relievers, and they make you feel great.  I didn’t believe in the endorphin rush, or Runner’s High, as it’s commonly referred, until I started running.  Now I can’t get enough.

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10. Embrace Your Negativity

Some people swallow and repress the negative thoughts and feelings they have, thinking this will somehow make them happier.  Unfortunately, it always seems to come back, manifesting in stress, physical pain, or otherwise.  The truth about the negativity is that it’s necessary to understand and accept that sometimes bad things happen.  Sometimes you will be stressed.  Sometimes things will happen that you have no control over.  Understanding and accepting this will reduce the stress you feel from repression, allowing you to get back to the things that make you happy.

11. Challenge Yourself

One of the greatest things you can do in life is to set the bar high and then achieve.  By challenging yourself in ways that are achievable, but require work, you continue to work hard and improve yourself, often times leading to the outcome of being satisfied not with the accomplishment, but with the progress that you’ve made simply by having the goal.  Set challenging goals, and then create realistic plans to achieve them.  Every achievement becomes another step on the staircase towards your greatest, happiest self.

12. Volunteer Your Time

There is no quicker way to feel happy than to help someone else, especially someone in need of help.  Volunteering your time is addicting, not just because you’re helping people in need, but because you feel good doing it.  It’s a humbling way to honor humanity and be grateful for the blessings that you’ve received.  There’s tons of reasons for the good feelings associated with volunteering, but suffice it to say it’s a no-brainer for both quick and long-term happiness.

Check out 11 Facts About Volunteering That Will Surely Impress You

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13. Posture and Breathing

Sit up straight, pull your shoulders back, and take a deep breath.  Do it a few more times.  Feel that? Posture and breathing have a profound affect on your outlook on life.  In just a few moments, hunching and taking weak, shallow breaths can sap the life right out of you.  Focus on sitting up with your shoulder back and taking deep breaths as often as possible, and you’ll be happier throughout the day.

What did we miss?  What steps have you taken towards making happiness a habit? Tell us your habit in the comments below.

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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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