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30 Things You Should Never Give Up If You Want To Be Happy

30 Things You Should Never Give Up If You Want To Be Happy

On our quest for happiness, there are many things we must give up. But there are many things that you should never give up if you want to be happy. Here are just a few, in no particular order.

1. Don’t give up taking walks in the woods.

Breathe deeply. Listen to wind. Let the trees embrace you. There is something deep inside us that longs for Mother Nature. Go for a visit.

2. Don’t give up doing things that scare you.

A seed only grows by breaking out of the shell and venturing into the unknown. The unknown scares us, but it is where we must go to grow.

3. Don’t give up being kind.

We only achieve true fulfillment when we grow and contribute to a cause greater than ourselves. There is no greater cause than sharing kindness with others.

4. Don’t give up sleeping under the stars.

Every once in a while, get out to a place where the stars shine and fall asleep under their glory. You’ll remember a wonder that humans have known for thousands of years.

5. Don’t give up speaking the truth.

Your truth is a powerful force. It will serve you when you honor it. Each time you let it speak, it grows stronger. Let it guide you.

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6. Don’t give up forgiving.

Forgiving is the key to healing. Insisting on remaining hurt is choosing vengeance for the past instead of healing in the future. You cannot have both. Forgive so that you can return to peace.

7. Don’t give up asking for help.

We can get confused and think asking for help is weakness. Asking for help can be a major strength. Include other people in your plans and dreams. You are creating opportunities for others to connect and share their kindness with you.

8. Don’t give up talking to strangers.

All of my best friends were once strangers. Great conversations and possibilities await.

9. Don’t give up lip syncing to your favorite songs.

You’re a rock star.  Happiness is a fist pump away. While you’re at it, maybe you could sing a little, too.

10. Don’t give up touching your toes.

According to my 75 year-old yoga teacher, “You are as young as your spine is flexible.”  Stretching releases massive energy stores and fuels happy rushes of life. Take it slow and easy.

11. Don’t give up hoping.

Hoping for what? It really doesn’t matter. If you want to be happy, never give up hope that things can change. You can always learn from your mistakes and improve.

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12. Don’t give up investing in yourself.

If you’re not investing in yourself, what are you investing in? You are still investing your time, energy, and money into something. Make sure you intentionally choose your investments, or your time, energy, and money will be gone, and you may not be happy with the results.

13. Don’t give up smiling.

If you want to be happy, smile. Smile at yourself in the mirror (it certainly beats scowling and putting yourself down). Smile at people in the grocery store.  Smile at the guy who just cut you off. See what happens.

14. Don’t give up connecting with the people you care about.

When you care about someone, care for the relationship like a precious plant. Keep the weeds out and water it consistently. It will grow with your effort and love.

15. Don’t give up meditating or praying.

Whether you are religious, spiritual or atheist, it doesn’t matter. Developing a practice of awareness and connection to that which is greater than you, however you define it, puts things in perspective. Those who want to be happy go within and listen.

16. Don’t give up moving your body.

Move your body with finesse. Let it sweat. Let it run out of breath and find it again. Let it climb trees and skip and play. It was designed to move. It is happy this way.

17. Don’t give up dreaming improbable dreams.

Improbable is not the same as impossible. Improbable requires innovation, imagination, motivation, facing fears, and busting your butt‒all good things.

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18. Don’t give up loving yourself.

Whitney Houston got one thing right. Learning to love and accept yourself is a lifelong pursuit. When you learn to push past shame, judgement, and fear, happiness follows as you see all the wonder that is you.

19. Don’t give up expressing gratitude.

We have a tendency to focus on the things we feel are lacking in our lives, so that is what we see.  If you want to be happy, break this tendency by actively seeking out the blessings in your life.  Then take it a step further: express your gratitude aloud. The more often you express it, the more often you feel it and the happier you will be.

20. Don’t give up making new friends.

It becomes harder to make new friends when you become an adult. That doesn’t mean you should give up. Keep putting yourself out there and stay open to the new people who come along.

21. Don’t give up trying new things.

“Oh, I could never do that!” This is the siren of surrender. Happiness is found on the edge of cliff as frequently as it is found in a hammock. Try to find happiness in things you’ve never done, and it will be there.

22. Don’t give up getting in shape.

How happy do you feel when you give up on your body? Getting back in shape requires one thing: consistency. Happiness comes when you consistently insist that your body is still worth it.

23. Don’t give up looking foolish.

The fear of looking foolish is probably the greatest cause of unhappiness. Most people have no idea how happy they could be because they won’t risk looking foolish. Making peace with looking foolish is a key choice to achieve more and find happiness.

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24. Don’t give up feeling excited by rainbows.

If there comes a point in your life when seeing a rainbow doesn’t give you even a little jolt of giddy wonder, expect three ghosts.

25. Don’t give up having something to look forward to.

Set goals and make plans a few months in advance that will give you something to work for and anticipate with joy.

26. Don’t give up napping.

A little afternoon nap can change your entire outlook. Recharging your batteries with a 20 minute nap can boost your productivity for the rest of the day.

27. Don’t give up holding hands.

The need for love & connection is hard-wired into our brains. The act of holding hands is so simple yet so profound. Never give it up if you want to be happy.

28. Don’t give up arts & crafts.

There’s a reason why many of us avoid the arts. Brene Brown found that of the adults in her research who reported experiencing a significant shaming event in their lives, 50% of those events involved creative expression. Don’t give up your creative voice. It still waits for you‒with a box of crayons and some pipe cleaners.

29. Don’t give up dancing.

At a dance in high school, a friend laughed and yelled over the music, “You dance like a duck!” There is something vulnerable about dancing. And yet, happiness is still found on the dance floor.

30. Don’t give up skinny dipping.

I have never gone skinning dipping with a frown on my face. Ever. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

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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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