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20 Facts About Happiness That Will Surely Impress You

20 Facts About Happiness That Will Surely Impress You

Are you obsessively taking your happiness pulse? Do you even know what makes you happy anymore? I’m not talking about a happy day, happy hour, or happily-ever-after Hollywood ending. I’m talking about real, honest and true, long-lasting happiness.

Of course, you’ll be happy when that email you received from Google tells you to pack your bags for Silicon Valley—because you got the job you wanted—or when that gorgeous guy or girl sitting across from you at the bar asks for your number.

Surely those are smile-producing events, but after you move to Cali or go out on a few dates with Mr. or Miss Perfect, the smiles fade and you’re left alone with an “okay, now what?” empty feeling.

Maybe you’re stuck in the “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. Do you find yourself thinking, “If only I could move to another city, if only the kids would stop whining so much, and if only I could take that European vacation I’ve been dreaming about, then I will be truly happy”?

Happy people are happy with what they have.

Weddings, awards, love affairs, purses, shoes, or cars make you happy, but that joy is short lived. If you’re looking for real happiness, you might be looking in the wrong place.

These impressive facts about happiness might surprise you.

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1. Happiness is a life-long pursuit.

Awards, achievements, and celebrations are temporary happy moments. “Happily ever after” is hard work that never ends. Live each day as happy as you can. A day lost in misery is gone forever.

2. Look for the good in everything.

Alice Herz-Sommer was a Holocaust survivor who lived for 108 years. When asked how she could be happy after so much tragedy, she said, “I look for the good. I know there is bad, but I look for the good thing.”

3. Stop taking your happiness pulse.

Measuring your happiness doesn’t increase it. It’s like getting on the scales every day when you’re on a diet to discover that you only lost 1/8 lb. You become discouraged. Make happiness an alternative lifestyle, like your new vegan diet.

4. Happiness is a habit.

Pursue it throughout the day. Develop an attitude of happiness. As a athlete trains for a triathlon, sign yourself up for happiness bootcamp and make it your habit. In his book Happier, Tal Ben-Shahar says that happiness is a ritual that must be created, identified, and maintained. If you stick with it, by day 30 you can say hello to your new habit.

According to Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer prize winning staff writer and author of the Power of Habit, there is a three-step neurological process that creates a habit. “Choose a cue (leave your running shoes by the door), then pick a reward (eating chocolate); gradually when you see your running shoes, your brain will start to crave the chocolate, which makes it easier to work out daily.”

5. Happiness is a skill.

Sometimes you have to dig your way out of the smelly garbage bin of life. Learning how to turn a negative response into a positive one requires effort. However, according to cognitive scientists Paul Ekman and Richard Davidson: “The goal is not  to rid oneself or transcend an emotion, not even hatred, but to regulate experience and action once an emotion is felt.” It’s about becoming the manager of your emotions.

6. Happy people are successful.

Most people think success makes you happy, but according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, happiness creates success. Happy people are confident, optimistic, energetic, and sociable. “They are more likely to have fulfilling marriages and relationships, high incomes, superior work performance, community involvement, robust health and even a long life.”

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7. Happiness comes from living with purpose.

Do you feel that you are living true to your purpose? Living with purpose causes happiness. Once there was a prisoner who was given the task of turning a faucet every day to water the plants in the garden outside. Every day he turned the handle. After many years, he was released and wanted to see the plants he had been watering. When he asked to see the garden, he was told there were none. Upon hearing that, he collapsed and died.

8. Pay it forward.

If you are buying yourself a coffee and you buy the stranger behind you one too, your happiness will last longer than if you just bought one for yourself. A study in Psychological Science traced the path of the vagus nerve showing how it connects social contact to the positive emotions that come from social interactions. Even simply witnessing an act of kindness can create a peak experience, an awesome, “grateful to be alive” feeling, according to Abraham Maslow, psychologist and researcher.

9. Smile.

“Smiling sends signals to the brain of emotional well-being,” Ron Gutman says in his TED talk. He explains that a smile is beneficial to your health. Smiling may even increase lifespan. Smiling lowers stress hormones and blood pressure. Facial muscles send messages that modify emotional areas of the brain, so stay away from botoxing your smile lines. Surprisingly, smiling stimulates the feel-good areas of the brain more than chocolate and money.

10. Happiness is contagious. 

We are all connected; what we feel affects the people we meet. Watch what happens when you smile at someone who passes you by on the street. If you make eye contact, they will probably smile back. You just delivered positive energy into the soul of another person.

11. Happy people enjoy deep conversations.

Gossip is the talk of negative thinkers. Happy people enjoy deep philosophical conversations that stimulate the intellect. In Psychological Science, Dr. Matthias Mehl reported that in a study he conducted happier people had twice as many conversations as unhappy people.

12. Pets make you happy.

If you have a dog, you know how loved you feel when your dog jumps for joy at the sight of you, but there’s medical proof that your dog is good for your health. Dogs keep you company, force you to walk, lower your blood pressure and are great date magnets. Even looking at your cat curled on top of your computer can reduce your chance of a heart attack, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood. Researcher James E. Gern, MD, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology states that children who grow up around animals have a stronger immune system.

13. Exercise causes happiness.

Physical activity can induce an endorphin-based high. The Mayo Clinic reports seven health benefits of regular exercise: weight control, combating health conditions and diseases, improved mood, boosted energy, better sleep, improved intimacy, and it’s fun.

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14. Certain foods make you happy.

Thanksgiving dinner is over and what’s the first thing you want to do? You’re so tired you can’t keep your eyes open to watch the end of the football game. Everyone knows tryptophan in the turkey did it. Foods affect you. Every sad girl knows that nothing soothes a broken heart like a pint of ice cream. There’s scientific proof.

Neuroscientists from the Institute of Psychiatry in London studied people eating ice cream and found an immediate effect on parts of the brain that activate when people enjoy themselves. It’s also true that junk food makes you miserable. A study suggests that people who eat junk food are more likely to develop depression, to be single, less active and work longer, than those who don’t.

15. Job satisfaction makes you happy.

You spend hours at your desk. Your back hurts and your Fitbit is telling you to start walking. You go home stressed out and exhausted, get a few hours’ sleep, and then start all over again. Is your work meaningful or are you just there to pay the bills? Tal-Ben-Shahar, Harvard professor and author, states that when your work is  purposeful it can be fulfilling, even in routine jobs. Find something meaningful in the menial tasks.

16. Happiness is contagious.

You know how you feel when you walk into the house after a hard day at the office and see a grumpy face standing there to greet you? New research from Harvard Medical School and the University of California (San Diego) suggests that happiness is influenced by people you know and by the people they know. Happiness is so contagious that we can even catch it from social networking. Sadness is also contagious, so be careful who you are friends with on Facebook. Your friends might be making your other friends sad.

17. Money buys happiness/money doesn’t buy happiness.

Money makes you happy but only up to $75,000, according to research by Princeton Professors Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton. Beyond that amount, it all depends on how you define happiness.

When describing overall satisfaction with life, money continues to raise happiness levels. However when happiness is defined as the satisfaction from day-to-day life, more money doesn’t raise happiness.

The bottom line: Having enough money for your necessities provides an overall happy life but does not impact your daily happiness levels.

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18. Happiness is a choice. 

Often it’s a tough choice. You have to forgive when you want revenge, be nice when you want to be angry, give when you want to receive, and get out of bed when all you want to do is lie in it all day watching the last season of Game of Thrones.

19. Dancing causes happiness.

Dance is powerful. JL Hanna, in The Power of Dance: Health and Healing, states that dance strengthens the immune system, eliminates stress and its effects. The American Dance Therapy Association reports in their journal, the AJDT, the several benefits of dance therapy for cancer patients, autism, Parkinson’s Disease, depression, and special needs. Besides what’s better than grabbing an air mike, blasting Pitbull on your iPod, while dancing around the room?

20. Happiness gets better with age.

It’s a fact; the older you get, the happier you become. In Perspective on Psychological Science, researchers found that older people tend to remember the good times more than the sadder ones. Seniors also seek out situations that lift their mood.

Happy people live longer. A study at The Albert Einstein Institute for Aging Research found that the 243 centenarians who participated had a positive attitude towards life. It stated, “They were optimistic, outgoing, and easy going.”

Happiness is simple: Start dancing, get a dog, chat deeply, and smile; you’ll live longer.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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