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14 Choices Happy People Make

14 Choices Happy People Make

People make a lot of choices throughout the day. Think about it. What to wear, what to eat for breakfast, how to get to work, whether or not to say hi to co-workers, who to send emails to, where to go for lunch, what bills to pay, what errands to run, whether or not to see friends, what to watch on TV, what time to go to bed, etc. The list goes on and on and on.

One of the most paramount and compelling choices people face is whether or not to let bad or unexpected things get them down and make them feel unhappy. Guess what happy people choose. They choose to be happy regardless of what is happening around them.

If you want to start feeling happier, then do what happy people do, and make these 14 choices:

1. Forgive.

“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”

Forgiveness is a powerful tool that people have at their disposal. Happy people forgive because that’s what best for them. They know holding on to anger, sadness, or frustration will only hurt themselves. You can forgive because that is what will help you feel better. It can be difficult, sure, but you can choose to do it.

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2. Take things one day at a time.

Take a deep breath. Slow down for a minute. Your experience in this very moment is your life. Worrying about the past can get in the way of your here and now. You can think about your future, but do so mindfully, so you always remain truly present. Choose to take things one day at a time.

3. Have a bad day.

Happy people know they will experience hurt sometimes. It’s an unchangeable fact of life. If you can accept this inevitability, then you can be prepared for it when it comes. Explore your bad days and try to find out what is really going on beneath the surface. Ask your inner child what he or she needs and then try to fulfill that need. Please don’t expect that you’re never going to feel bad because that will just make you unhappy. Choose to have a bad day once in a while.

4. Never take things personally.

“When someone is nasty or treats you poorly, don’t take it personally. It says nothing about you, but a lot about them.” – Michael Josephson

This couldn’t be truer. All people have bad days, right? (Refer to #3!) If someone is rude to you, ignores you, or looks sad, it likely has nothing to do with you. Don’t make assumptions about what is going on in other people’s heads, and don’t worry about rescuing them from their moods or problems. It is not your job, nor your responsibility. Happy people will listen to a friend in need, but know better than to make it about themselves. Choose not to take things personally.

5. Try. (Even when it seems way too hard.)

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

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How can you make a shot if you don’t take it? How can you succeed if you don’t try? Always give yourself a chance. Happy people attempt things even when success is not guaranteed and even when it’s scary for them. What an amazing feeling it will be to succeed through uncertainty! By the way, failing is also healthy. You can learn and grow from failure. Don’t be afraid of change, but instead take risks. You can handle it! Choose to try.

“Failing is not falling down but refusing to get up.” – Chinese proverb

6. Love yourself.

You’ve got to love yourself. You really do. Respect and wholly accept who you are, down to your core. Remember that you are not your behaviors or your emotions. We all make bad decisions and act poorly sometimes. Who doesn’t? At the time you made a questionable decision, did you believe you were making one? Probably not. We all screw up sometimes! Live and learn, and then love yourself with all your flaws and imperfections. Consider this: there are no “mistakes,” but rather opportunities to learn and grow. You are wonderful just the way you are. Choose to love yourself!

7. Take responsibility.

Take full responsibility for yourself. You don’t have to love your actions or feelings, but you do have to own them. Try not to blame yourself or other people for your problems. If you are acting negatively right now, that’s your choice. And it’s okay! If that is what you need to do, then do it. But own up to it, and turn it around it when you are ready. Even if something or someone bothered you, you do not have to let it control you. Remember not to give that power away. You can choose to take responsibility.

8. Laugh.

Laugh! Laugh your little heart out. Laugh until you turn red. Laugh until your stomach hurts. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at your friends. Laugh at all the silly gaffes, snafus, and flubs you’ve made. Laugh at all the annoying behaviors that used to drive you crazy. Laugh as much as you can. Laughter is the cheapest and easiest medicine you can get, and there are no side-effects! Happy people choose to laugh and so can you.

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“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin

laughter

    9. Let go.

    Let go of expectations. Let go of anxiety. Let go of fear. Let go of hate. Let go of hurt. Let go of the past. Let go of trying to fix things. Let things work themselves out, and while that’s happening, the only things you have to do are livelearn, and smile. Choose to let go today.

    10. Be grateful.

    Think about everything and everyone in your life. Name three things or people you are thankful for. Name five more things or people you are thankful for. How about 10? Can you name 15? Now, thank the people and things you listed. While you’re at it, thank the clothes you’re wearing and the computer you’re using. Don’t forget to thank the car you drove, the bus you took, or the bike you rode today. You can choose to recognize all you have, and once you do, you will be choosing happiness.

    11. Trust.

    First, trust yourself. Trust that you are strong. Trust that you can survive. Trust that you make good decisions and have well-developed opinions. Trust that you are in control.

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    Second, trust that you have great family and friends. Trust that they have your best interests in mind. Trust that they do not ever intend to hurt you. Choose to see the good in people. Choose trust.

    12. Help others.

    Do you know someone who could use a hand? Why don’t you offer to help them out this weekend? Have you ever volunteered? Why not visit a shelter, read to children at a hospital, donate to a food pantry, or hang out with some grandmas at an old-age home? How about holding the door or giving someone a free smile? Doing these kinds of things will make you feel good. Choose to be kind and help others out.

    13. Think things through.

    Think everything through. You don’t need to rush to make decisions. You don’t need to react, but instead, you can give yourself time to process. While your mind synthesizes, you can paint a picture, read a book, or talk to a friend. Relax and let your brain do the work. A lot goes on in your head in one day; it needs time to go through it all. Choose to let time be on your side and think things through.

    14. Be happy.

    It can be that simple if you let it. Sure, everyone has different DNA and various levels of endorphins in their brains, but all of us can make choices. You can let things get you down or you can be happy. Starting today, choose happiness.

    Namaste

      Featured photo credit: Nosha via flickr.com

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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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