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18 Ways Your Thinking Is Destroying Your Happiness

18 Ways Your Thinking Is Destroying Your Happiness

Do you destroy your happiness, without even realizing it? Let’s review 18 ways you might be doing that, and claim your best life today!

1. You distress about what’s ahead of you and forget about how far you’ve already come.

That’s the recipe for feeling discouraged. This bad habit dramatically increases your chances of giving up on your dream. If you instead focus a little more on the things you have achieved so far—the pounds you lost (or gained!), the things you learned, the money you made—then you’ll have a more holistic view of where you are and you won’t feel overwhelmed or powerless when looking ahead.

2. You think you need others to support you because you are afraid to be on your own.

This is such a big trap, and at the same time it’s so easy to miss because of denial.

That’s how people stay in abusive, or even ‘good enough’, relationships. That’s how other people depend on other people for money—whether that is family, or even an employer (vs. following their dream to start a business).

The truth is you have the power to go anywhere you want in life. But before you do that you first need to realize that you are actually depriving yourself of the opportunity to make it happen. Yup, that’s exactly what you do. You don’t even give yourself a chance to try. What if you did?

3. You think you’ll be happy later, when you have reached that goal.

You’ll be happy when you get fit, right? When you get that body you want, then you’ll be so happy. In the meantime, it’s normal to be miserable since your body is so unfit!

That’s exactly how we think with goals, all sorts of goals. Even though we know that money or a perfect body are not a prerequisite for happiness, we keep obsessing about it.

I hate that way of thinking—I call it The Happiness Paradox Trap. You see, even when you get fit, or make more money, or find love, you’ll then set new goals and you will have new excuses to be miserable!

But who said you can’t be both happy now and later? Why wait for some artificial goal to materialize to be happy? I believe that if you remind yourself enough that, yes, you can be happy now, you will indeed fall into this Happiness Paradox Trap less.

4. You see happiness as something exterior rather than as something interior.

You think it’s normal for others to be happy because they have better credentials, or make more money, or have a lovely spouse. Yet, we all know people who don’t have all that and are still happy.

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I understand that feeling miserable is a habit that we were taught in a young age. Buuut … it’s an irrational habit. Happiness is something interior, not something exterior. It’s a feeling and you can feel it anytime. Next time you tell yourself that you need something first to be happy: think again. Is what you’re saying rational?

5. You don’t take care of yourself.

You know you should exercise more, but don’t. You know you should be less hard on yourself, but are not. As a result, you feel guilty.

I understand that to an extent, the reason you don’t do what you think you should do, is that you don’t really know how to go about it and succeed. Hint: try a unconventional five-minute exercise program and you’ll know exactly what to do if the exercise example resonated with you.

Stop depriving yourself of happiness, and get rid of the guilt you feel because you know you should do X but don’t. If you find the right process that fits your needs, then I know you can make this happen! And no, you don’t need more motivation to do it and keep going.

6. You play the victim role.

You don’t need to be in a co-dependent relationship to play the victim role. Say you “can’t” do this or that? You are playing the victim role.

Here’s what you might not know though: You might actually get benefits by playing the victim.

For example, if you’re overweight and feel a victim because of that, you might secretly feel proud for going against what those evil magazines want you to do. Or, if you are overwhelmed, you might get to brag to others about how much you need to do.

Now that’s alright. Unless of course you want to stop being overwhelmed or overweight.

The first step is to ask yourself: “What advantages do I get from my current situation?” Be honest, and list at least seven! You just might get surprised …

7. You don’t see the meaning of jealousy.

Feeling jealous or envious? It’s because that other person either has something you don’t have or is doing something that you want to do, too! Jealousy just demonstrates—right in your face—the desires you are not pursuing yet!

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It’s not about the other person, it’s about you. The best way to stop feeling jealous? Take action towards where you want to go.

8. You look for what is bad rather than what is good.

What you focus on, grows. It’s the confirmation bias at play. If you want to create more good stuff in your life, then focus on that, and think less about the bad.

9. You are very frugal with helping others.

I recently read Give and Take, by Adam Grant. It’s a fantastic book that demonstrates how “givers”—people who generously help others—rise to the top more than “takers”, or people who feel they need to take others down in order for themselves to rise.

Apart from success, helping others has been scientifically proven to increase happiness.

Two birds with one stone…

10. You think people won’t like you.

Sometimes we are self-conscious and don’t expect much for ourselves. My world changed when I heard Byron Katie, spiritual teacher, say:

“When I walk into a room, I know that everyone in it loves me. I just don’t expect them to realize it yet.”

Now that’s a feeling good, friend-making recipe!

11. You rationalize your bad behavior.

Behavioral Economics Professor Dan Ariely has proven that most of us are liars. Yet, even though we lie, and lying is bad, we don’t think of ourselves as bad people. We are good people who … lie. Huh, how does this work?

It’s called rationalization or cognitive dissonance. The more we do it, the more we’ll keep doing bad things, and the more we won’t achieve the type of lasting happiness we’re after.

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12. You blame it all on yourself.

You are your only resource. Treat yourself like gold. Don’t blame it all on yourself, just to be on the safe side. Try to detach yourself from the situation and then re-think whether it’s all your fault or not.

13. You are a (past-focused) realist.

You think that being a realist make you objective, but are you really a “realist” or are you a “past-focused realist”?

Here’s the deal: Everything you experience today is the result of what happened yesterday, last week, last month, etc. Yet the future is the result of today plus the past.

For example, if you say, “I’m broke,” that might be true. But if you’re not considering that you are job hunting at the same time, then you’re a “past-focused realist”.

A true realist would say, “I’m broke but all this might change in an instant as I’m job hunting!”

See the difference?

14. You want to fix everything right NOW.

You cannot just do five minutes of exercise today. You need to do 30 minutes of exercise at least to get results, right?

You feel you need to get to the end goal, right now! Well, if you did, then what’s left to do for tomorrow?

Seriously, if you could just have everything today, what would you do tomorrow?

15. You don’t practice gratitude.

Think of one thing in your life that you’re so happy having. Did that? Feel better already? Follow the Stanford Professor BJ Fogg’s Method to make practicing gratitude a habit.

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16. You feel you need to prove yourself.

I’ve definitely fallen into this trap. So here’s my question: “What is it that you’re lacking that you feel you need to prove?”

Answering this honestly will open the pathway to happiness, and get you further away from feelings of unworthiness.

17. You look for others to save you.

You think you don’t know enough about X and need someone else to help you. That might be true, but sometimes it’s only an excuse not to get your hands dirty.

It’s rarely because you’re lazy. It’s mostly because you feel incompetent. Here’s another example: You wait for someone to give you advice on what to do, when you’re the person who should give advice to yourself!

The problem here lies in the attitude of, “I’m not good enough to do this”, “I don’t know enough”, etc.

But what if you do know enough, and yes, you are good enough?

18. You’re afraid to let go of good enough in order to get to great.

Sometimes it’s just easy to settle for “good”. But what if it’s great that you really crave? You know good is the enemy of great, right? Watch Marie Forleo explain why she walked away from a million dollars, and get inspired to leave what’s good behind in order to get to great.

So what will you do today or this week to destroy your happiness less and enjoy life more?

More by this author

Maria Brilaki

Maria helps people create habits that stick not just for a month or two but for years and decades.

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More How to Think Happy Thoughts and Train Your Brain to Be Happy 7 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be a Happier Person 10 Things Nice People Do Differently That Make Them Achieve More If You Hate Exercise, This Will Probably Change Your Mind

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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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