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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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June Silny

ADHD Coach, Writer, ADDitude Magazine featured contributor

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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