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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

6 Reasons Why You’re Not Doing What Actually Makes You Happy

6 Reasons Why You’re Not Doing What Actually Makes You Happy

There are many things in life that make you happy, and there are many things that have the opposite effect. If you’re careful to focus on what makes you happy and decide to go out there and do it, then your quality of life can improve dramatically.

This article will list some of the reasons why people don’t do the things that make them happy as well as challenge you at the end.

1) You Think Just One Thing Will Make You Happy

Many people seem to think that doing what makes you happy means finding this one elusive “thing” that will forever make them happy. The truth is that life is about balance; many things will make you happy. My personal list includes 12 activities that I love to do, and they all make me happy.

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Happiness is simply an emotion that you feel which can last a few seconds or a few hours. The key is to have lots of things that make you happy and make the most of them as they surface throughout the day. These can be as subtle as receiving a smile from a loved one or getting thanked at work. They don’t have to be activities you dedicate hours to each day.

2) You’ve Been Taught To Be Happy All The Time

No one on this earth feels happy all the time. Life is full of ups and downs and it’s healthy to experience a range of emotions while attempting to have more positive experiences in your life.

Dancing usually makes me happy; however, I also struggle with the motivation to improve, and this isn’t always fun. I can feel frustrated as I learn and grow, wanting instant results but knowing that this isn’t the way the world works. What you really want is activities that makes you happy most of the time or you’ll never learn and grow.

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3) You’re Afraid Of What Others Will Think

It’s surprising but most people don’t think about you half as much as you believe they do. They’re too worried wondering what you think about them.

It’s your life and you get to choose what makes you happy–no one else. Aside from breaking the law or other dodgy behavior, you must decide to do what makes you happy no matter what others think. And generally, when you do the things that make you happy you’ll find out you were more afraid of your imagination than their true reaction anyway.

4) You Don’t Know If You Can Do It

Trying something new is always going to push your comfort zone. There is a time when everyone starts to learn something new and they suck at it. Every great, good or mediocre musician, actor, dancer, business person and sports star has failed along the way of their journey.

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Feeling happy is not about the success of reaching a goal. Feeling happy is about the journey you take. It doesn’t matter whether or not you become the best in the world; it matters whether you enjoy the process (or at least most of it).

5) You Don’t Think You Have The Time

Being busy is perhaps the biggest excuse for not doing things that make you happy. But if you spend your life focusing on the things you think you have to do rather than the things you want to do, well, that’s a little backwards.

When you make the things you love doing a priority, then they get done. If you want to do a yoga class during your lunch hour but never seem to make it away from your desk, it’s time to evaluate your priorities. Where else in your life do you put everyone else ahead of what you truly want as well?

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6) You Think You’re Going To Live Forever

Life is short and you wake up each morning with a decision. Either you’re going to do things that make you happy or you’re going to scrape through another day in survival mode. Once you start doing more things that make you happy, your life will get a whole lot brighter.

Stop putting off your dreams for a day that will probably never come. As Steve Jobs said:

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

It’s Time To Do What Makes You Happy

No one else is going to create your life for you. You can decide whether to fill your life with things that make you happy or constantly put them off for another day. In Steve Jobs case, it’s lucky that he lived his life to the hilt, as it was cut short far too early. This can happen to anyone.

What’s one thing that you could do today that would make you happy? It doesn’t have to be huge, but it has to be something. Even if it takes just a few minutes, you’ve started to build a happiness habit that will last a lifetime.

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Craig Dewe

Craig founded Lifestyle Outlaws, with the belief that everyone should have the time, money and health to do what they want with life.

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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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