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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

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    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 October 22, 2020

      8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

      8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

      How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

      Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

      When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

      Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

      What Makes People Poor Listeners?

      Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

      1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

      Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

      Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

      It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

      2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

      This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

      Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

      3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

      It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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      I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

      If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

      4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

      While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

      To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

      My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

      Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

      Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

      How To Be a Better Listener

      For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

      1. Pay Attention

      A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

      According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

      As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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      I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

      2. Use Positive Body Language

      You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

      A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

      People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

      But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

      According to Alan Gurney,[2]

      “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

      Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

      3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

      I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

      Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

      Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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      Be polite and wait your turn!

      4. Ask Questions

      Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

      5. Just Listen

      This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

      I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

      I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

      6. Remember and Follow Up

      Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

      For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

      According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

      It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

      7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

      If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

      Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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      Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

      Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

      NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

      1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
      2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

      8. Maintain Eye Contact

      When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

      Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

      By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

      Final Thoughts

      Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

      You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

      And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

      More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
      [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
      [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
      [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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