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19 Steps To True Happiness That Everyone Is Looking For

19 Steps To True Happiness That Everyone Is Looking For

Happiness is a term that has forever been a vague concept to grasp with countless studies and experiments done in order to decipher what it actually is and how it can be achieved.

In my person experience, happiness simply can’t be defined by using stats or figures and is first and foremost a feeling, which can only be manifested and acquired by you.

It’s an internal feeling that comes from a decision to be happy as well as a series of actions in order to help provoke it from within you.

Here are 20 ways that, when applied, have personally lead to increases in my happiness every time. Perhaps there are a few you can relate to.

1) Stop comparing yourself to others and false ideals.

When you look at the things around you, there are advertisements everywhere telling you what you need in your life in order to be happy. They encourage you to aspire to ideals that don’t actually exist and make you feel insecure about yourself.

The truth is, the things you see in advertisements and movies aren’t real. Most of it is manipulated and edited so that it looks perfect. We’re far from perfect, but we are unique and worthy enough to be special in the world. The truth is, you don’t need anything or to be anything in order to be valued on this planet.

2) Do what you love.

The best way to find out what it is you truly love in this world is to look deep inside yourself and to scope out whether what it is you want is due to what society tells you to like, or because of what you feel you want deep inside yourself.

If you felt ashamed of pursuing the things you truly enjoy due to social and societal pressure, then chances are, you’re being influenced, which is directly affecting your happiness. Pursue things you love without shame and don’t be afraid of standing out.

3) Turn off the television.

Simply put. Television is a distraction to the realities of the life around you and can easily influence you to believe in things that simply aren’t true. The best way to see the world in its entirety and completely uncensored is to turn off your television and to leave your house.

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What do your very eyes see of the world when you aren’t being fed with third party information?
There is no better experience in this world than to see it with your own eyes.

4) Don’t take yourself too seriously.

While life can be complicated at times and give you a hard time, there really is no denying the fact that all of us will depart the world in due course. This reminder should always be present when living out your daily life. It can help you realize that there really is no sense in taking life too seriously.

Learn to take in the world in its entirety and to enjoy it for what it is‒good and bad.

5) Be selfless and avoid being selfish.

Whatever it is you choose to do in this world, always try do it for reasons other than your own personal gain. The art of giving is perhaps one of the key things that has been proven to enrich your satisfaction and happiness, but is rarely ever practiced in society with regularity.

6) Be grateful for what you have.

In reference to #1, if you judge the quality of your life based on the things you own and how you look, you will never be happy, since you’ll always be looking for external references to prove to you that you are.

Whatever it is you may be unsatisfied with, somewhere in the world is a person who dreams of having the things you currently have. Always be grateful because it’s the precursor to moving forward with your personal and spiritual growth.

7) Share your values and kindness with others.

Similar to #6, there is nothing more satisfying than to spread your qualities with those around you and to influence people in a positive way.

Maybe it’s a blog you currently run, which you’re using to share your wisdom with others. Or perhaps it’s a skill you have that you’re happy to give and share in abundance.

Find out what your strengths and qualities are and don’t shy away from exposing it to the world.

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8) Learn to be patient‒things will happen at the right time.

The things we want and hope to achieve in this world are hardly ever acquired at the times we want them to. As hard as you work, it’s simply a law of average that the things you’re looking to achieve will simply happen in due course, but with no date as to when it will happen.

As long as you continue to push forward and keep taking the right steps that get you one step further towards your goals, it is then simply a matter of time and patience; it will happen for you eventually.

9) Become accepting of others as we’re all the same, yet unique.

Everyone may be the same as far as human nature is concerned, but we are all, in fact, different from each other, with unique nuances and characteristics. Learn to appreciate it and to see as a way of learning more about their character and personality.

10) Become forgiving of yourself and of other’s imperfections.

Following up from #10, don’t try to attempt to change people into your ideal. Life simply doesn’t work that way. There will be some people who you will naturally get along with, and others you will not. This is completely normal and a basic fact of life.

But above all, always be appreciative of people whether they’re in line with your values or not. This includes your very own characteristics. There’s nothing worse than to pretend to be someone you’re not in order to please others.

11) Keep a personal diary.

Our thoughts and worries can sometimes overwhelm us and in time, build up to a level that can cause us to feel depressed and frustrated. The best way to overcome this is to write down your thoughts on a notepad or a diary in order to help you unload whatever’s on your mind.

It’s never a good idea to keep things stuck in your mind, as it usually becomes a lot worse than it actually is, in reality.

12) Stop being a consumer.

We are often taught by the media that buying the next ‘shiny object’ would lead us to feeling better about ourselves in some way. Biologically speaking, this is somewhat true, as our body releases a short term chemical called ‘Dopamine’ that makes us feel a surge of satisfaction and excitement. But the sad truth is, it’s short lived, and is often confused for happiness.

Become conscious of the things you buy and start to question whether what you’re buying is something you actually need or whether it’s to fill a void in your life that you feel you currently have.

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If it’s the latter, then start to question why that is and begin to look for healthier solutions.

13) Become fascinated with the world you live in.

The world we live in is a very vast and abundant planet with a lot of things to do and experience It is simply impossible to see all of it in a single lifetime.
If there’s nothing more to get you excited, always remember that there is always something you have yet to experience, which could potentially lead you on a path you never thought possible.

14) Travel the world.

Its not until you leave your home country that you really begin to see just how different and varied our planet is. There are so many people to see, foods to taste and places to visit. It has literally changed my worldview and has helped me develop into a more open-minded and well-rounded person.

15) Learn about and make friends with people from other cultures and backgrounds.

Similarly, you will never quite develop a better understanding and deeper appreciation for people than if you consciously go out of your way and befriend people from other cultures and backgrounds.

You begin to see that while we may have different lifestyles and ways of doing things, in the end, we are all the same living under the same roof, which is the ever-expanding universe.

It will help you come to terms with the fact that, yes, there are people who are different from you and that like you, they too have worries, hopes and dreams.

16) Do your research when given information from other sources.

While wisdom, information and facts are important, you should always keep an open mind and seek to inquire with your own personal experiences.

Is the information you’ve been given really true based on your own personal experiences? Or is it simply a belief based on another person’s interpretation?

An inquiring mind is an open mind that isn’t easily manipulated.

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17) Smile more often.

It’s been proven by science that smiling more often and smiling just for the sake of smiling helps you be happy as well as help others feel better around you. Your physiology can in fact be changed simply by your psychology and vice-versa.

If you’re honestly feeling down or depressed. Consciously smile, stand tall and walk with your chest out. Then watch how you feel about yourself change with your very eyes.

18) Eat healthy foods and sleep well.

Our body is like a car engine and constantly needs refreshing and looking after. If it isn’t well-fed or maintained, it can lead to illnesses and a poor immune system, which over time will cause other problems as we age.

If you’re young, develop the habit of taking care of what you eat and drink and rest regularly. You may have all the energy in the world in your youth, but it will not be as abundant at a later stage in life.

But the enjoyment of your health can be maintained for years to come and will be solely dependent on how you treat your body in the present.

19) Meditate.

With so many things to do and experience, there will be times where you need to switch off from the world and reach a place of relaxation. Spend at least 5-10 minutes in complete solitude, thinking of nothing but your very own breathing and making it a daily habit.

You will find that over time, your mind will be a lot more stable and will begin to feel at peace with yourself as well as not be easily affected by the things around you.

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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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